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Dear Canada, It’s Not Me, It’s You

It's complicated.

Dear Canada: Congratulations on reaching 150 years! It’s your birthday and you should celebrate it like everyone else.

There are a lot of great things to celebrate and a lot to be proud of, but as an Indigenous person my relationship with you is complicated at best.

It’s great that you invited us to your party this year and I’m sure a lot of Indigenous People will attend. Just don’t expect everyone to make it.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be the Debbie Downer here.

It’s just that your Canada 150 Celebrations are a little one-sided.

Sure, it’s great to look back and reflect on your past accomplishments, but if you only cherry pick your memories and only focus on the good, then it’s not really self-reflection.

1. Universal healthcare is amazing but we still have problems with lack of access to services in Northern Indigenous communities and issues with systemic racism in the healthcare system.

2. The Mounties are an internationally renowned symbol of Canadian pride, peace, and justice. For Indigenous People…well, just have a look at this painting by First Nations artist Kent Monkman.

3. Speaking of art, it’s great that you love our art — we wish you loved our artists just as much.

4. While we’re on the subject, our art and identity share a lot of iconic animals with Canada like the beaver or the polar bear, and that’s cool! But sometimes, Canada, you take it a step too far and use actual Indigenous People as your symbols or images.

5. Canadian multiculturalism is great! In fact that’s one of my favourite things about you, Canada. But you conveniently leave out how you did everything in your power to prevent us from expressing our cultures for most of your history.

6. We love that you’re an internationally sworn climate change leader, but we want a seat at the table too, since this affects us too.

7. We are proud of Canada’s role fighting fascism in WWII, its peacekeeping missions abroad, and support to our international allies, but we are not proud of the racism and discrimination faced by Indigenous People serving in the armed forces.

8. The stereotype of the friendly Canadian is true, unless it’s the comments section discussing Indigenous issues.

9. Congratulations Canada on having one of the highest postsecondary graduation rates in the world — unless you’re Indigenous.

10. Canada, we love that you are international supporter of human rights. It’s just too bad you're not a supporter of treaty rights.

11. You have a rich and eventful history, it would be nice to be included in the history books, since, you know, we’ve always lived here.

12. Canada, you’re a great place to raise children, now stop taking ours. It didn’t work well in the past and it’s not working now.

13. We loved that you endorsed the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (eventually), but now it’s time to actually do something about it.

14. It’s great that you’re proud of being a bilingual nation, but there are lot more languages from here.

15. It’s true, Canadians say sorry all the time. Believe me, we’ve gotten a lot of apologies like for Residential Schools, forcibly relocating Inuit as human flag poles, and we’re still waiting on the apology for the ‘60s Scoop.

16. Look, the point of this isn’t to just throw shade.

Happy birthday, I’m glad we had this talk.