The celebration of Canada Day has sparked controversy and debates across the country, especially after the discovery last year of hundreds of unmarked graves buried beneath residential schools in several provinces. For many, this was a sign to end any sort of praise towards Canada. For many others as well, it meant it was time to continue celebrating Canada Day but with a different mindset and a deeper understanding of the problems in this country. Here are some of ways we at the Gauntlet will go about Canada Day this year.
Sophia’s Choice: Editor-in-Chief
This year I will celebrate Canada Day. I wouldn’t consider myself to be overly patriotic or anything like that, but I do love my country and I’m grateful for the opportunities it has given me and my family — my family who worked so hard to get here. Yes, Canada has slipped up far too many times, but no country is perfect. Just because I’m celebrating the good parts of Canada doesn’t mean I’m praising the horrible things this country has done or taken part in. Being born and raised in Canada means a lot to me and for that I’ll be celebrating.
Valery’s Choice: Visuals Editor
I will be celebrating this year mainly because of my family. We immigrated in 2008 and it has not been an easy journey. This year especially has really tested us as individuals and as a family unit. We have finally made it to a place where we’re happy and less stressed. Add to that a new home and we want to invite a few friends over and inaugurate the place. Canada has given my family many amazing opportunities at a new life and a brighter future. This does not mean I ignore or justify the horrible realities that we have come to learn about. The enormous death toll caused by residential schools and the many other horrendous mistreatments towards the Indigenous communities are events that cannot be ignored. Canada is a country that, while full of hope and opportunity, could and should improve and take responsibility for everything that got it to the place it is at today. I want to believe that the future of Canada is bright and I want to celebrate because I hope to take an active part towards making it so.
Sylvia’s Choice: Visuals Assistant
Since I haven’t celebrated Canada Day in a while, it would just be nice to get together with friends and celebrate our country, even though it is far from perfect. This year I approach Canada with a new mindset — one where I will celebrate this country but also reflect on the things it has done towards the Indigenous communities.
Maggie’s Choice: Sports & Lifestyle Assistant
As a family, we generally observe holidays as rest days so we like to just stay in and not do much. On top of that, I don’t feel like it’s respectful to the Indigenous people of our country. To not celebrate Canada Day in 2021 “in solidarity” with them only to view 2022 as some brand new year despite not much changing is a bit of a slap in the face to them.
Roog’s Choice: Arts & Science Editor
Canada Day is always contentious for me because I feel like there’s nothing to celebrate. As a child of immigrants I can appreciate the opportunities that have been granted to my parents as citizens of this nation, but these feelings don’t extend past appreciation. As a Black woman, I oftentimes feel like an outsider in my own province and don’t have any connections to Canadian culture, whatever that may be. On a wider scale, the country continues to disrespect Indigenous people and overall refuse to take proactive actions to mending those relationships. Obviously, go ahead and celebrate if you want to, it just doesn’t really feel celebratory to me.
Ramiro’s Choice: Layout Editor
I’m celebrating this year’s Canada Day with my family since it will be the first time we celebrate as citizens. For us, it’s more of spending time together and celebrating the opportunity to come to this country. Still, I believe it is important to recognize the horrible treatment done to the Indigenous people of Canada and the work left to be done, especially immediately following Indigenous History Month.
Eula’s Choice: News Editor
As an immigrant who had been afforded many opportunities by this beautiful country, I’ve always felt great pride celebrating July 1. It was not until last year, however — with the discovery of the unmarked graves in former residential schools — that I heavily pondered what it means to “celebrate” this country. In a time where many civil liberties are being threatened across the globe and across the border, Canada remains to have one of the strongest democracies in the world — and I take pride in that. I feel an immense amount of gratitude in knowing that this country, its laws and institutions, will safeguard my autonomy and freedoms as enshrined in its constitution. But true patriotism should not denote ignorance. It does not turn a blind eye on the nation’s wicked history and its lingering intergenerational effects on communities that it affected. “Celebrating” and “loving” your country does not justify ignoring the dark legacy it left behind on its Indigenous population. Instead, it acknowledges it, and makes a sincere attempt in understanding the trauma and prejudice that continues to plague many Indigenous peoples and communities today. I will always celebrate Canada, but I believe that taking pride in this country should come with the responsibility to reflect on how to better support communities that continue to suffer the harmful impacts of colonial policies. Without bearing this in mind, it genuinely makes me question what I am celebrating for.
Aymen’s Choice: Voices Editor
Truly I’m on the fence here. Canada is a country which is embedded in colonialism from its institutions to the way we interact with one another. I oppose the idea of celebrating Canada as a country that was founded as a result of a genocide against Indigenous groups that were already well established before this country’s founders arrived. At the same time, as an immigrant I feel a certain degree of nostalgia during Canada Day as a reflection of how far my family has come from their roots — in search for a better life here. It’s a reminder of our struggle and how we made it here.
Megan’s Choice: Visuals Editor
At the end of the day, I disagree with cancel culture. While Canada’s history is anything but perfect, completely cancelling a celebration will inevitably divide people, creating spaces where no one will learn anything from each other. I will celebrate Canada Day because I am proud to be Canadian. I will also be wearing orange in hopes of sparking conversations, and to be reminded that there is a lot of work that needs to be done moving forward. Whether you chose to celebrate or not, please take some time to remember the thousands of unmarked graves in Canada. Every child matters.
This article is part of our Opinions section.