What a time to be Canadian!
On July 1st, 2017, Canadians around the world will celebrate the anniversary of the creation of the Confederation of Canada - the day in 1867 when Canada took its first step toward independence from the United Kingdom. This all followed the signing of the Confederation Act, the official document through which the Union of Canada (made up of parts of present-day Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia united and transformed the future of the colony.
The Confederation Act was the backbone of the way in which authority would be transferred to the Parliament and Senate of Canada - a version of the political system elsewhere in the UK - as part of the building of the Canadian political and judicial systems. Although this was cause for celebration, the early union of Canada was not prepared for problems that would come with attempting to bring together such a diverse and uncoordinated regional population and it didn't take long for the problems to start on a governmental level.
By this time, colonists from Europe were already at war with themselves, indigenous populations, and the environment. To make matters more complicated, as many people reading this blog will already know, no two cultural groups are alike - sometimes even to extremes. In order to establish some kind of uniformity and order across the colony with particular pressure on the indigenous population the Indian Act was established - in 1876. Short of a handful of amendments, the spirit of the Indian Act remains the same - suppress the abilities of the indigenous (aka Aboriginal) population. Residential schools were established in order to educate and assimilate indigenous youth and young adults. As the program grew, the early Canadian government provided incentive programs for churches to do the work - partly for their benefit but more to reduce the cost to the government - and the religious communities were more than happy to help - partly for the benefit of the youth but mostly (and by a wide margin) for their own benefit. Abuses began almost immediately in an attempt to "civilize the heathens" (religious schools) and to "educate the uncivilized" (secular schools) by those who, by today's standards, would be in no position to lead or teach.
The early court system was no better. There was no representation, no spirit of compassion, and no second chances for any aboriginal person. Somehow, in ways I cannot bring myself to understand outside of greed and pride, the people who helped the colonists survive suddenly became public enemy Number 1 plunging early Canada into a state of desperation, misunderstanding, and malice.
Times have really changed, haven't they.
I am a proud Canadian anchored by Algonquin and European roots but that doesn't come without a little bit of an identity crisis. Like many groups in Canada - including LGBT, religious, refugee, and uniformed men and women - the First Nations, Non-Status, Metis, and Inuit peoples of Canada remain sub-cultural until election time only to then be ignored almost immediately thereafter. Many politicians cannot pass up the opportunity for a photo op in a blind attempt to appear helpful if for no other reason than to make the sleight of hand appear gracious. Just this week the Supreme Court denied appeals by First Nations seeking to admonish or otherwise end various construction projects on unceded territories - those regions where the land still 'belongs', legally, to the First Nation, as well as ceded territories - where a treaty was signed but permission is still required for civil, private, or other projects by non-FN parties. Constitutionally speaking, the SCoC must hear the appeal but they will not.
And this isn't just a pipeline issue. The Canadian government is essentially ransoming billions of dollars owed to the First Nations according to treaties and other legal proceedings and will not provide any show of good faith with the slight exception of cool sounding campaign promises.
Going deeper still, in April 2016 the Supreme Court ruled that the Canadian government is responsible for all indigenous peoples - not just the "Status" First Nations and yet nothing has come of that ruling. Again, not unlike what happened with rulings that should have enforced government responsibility for veterans and other vulnerable groups.
Now, given, my definition of the term "Vulnerable Group" is pretty wide but at least I have it defined. In being part of the Moving on Mental Health initiative I have learned that there are not a whole lot of definitions for many buzzwords. Good example: "Health Care". Whether you are talking about women's health or LGBT or aboriginal or military - and the list goes on - the term "Health Care" is used almost stylistically but there is no solid definition. Under the "women's health" category, abortion was legalized on the understanding that it was part of women's health care and was left undefined. More recently, euthanasia came floating into the fray also as a part of standard "health care". If health care means what I assume it to mean then neither of these medical procedures would count. Moreover, I would assume it to be easier to access what I would call health care - primary medical or mental health, support and respite - than the aforementioned; however, I am grossly incorrect in that assumption. With the legalization of euthanasia we have turned the issue of endemic suicides into "death with dignity".
But I digress.
I came to this blog today to talk about how I will be both celebrating and mourning on the 150th anniversary of the formation of Canada and so far I have only mourned. Maybe it's the fact that it is a rainy day outside and the fireworks are rescheduled for tomorrow in my hometown. I believe the deeper meaning is that in order for someone as connected to the various groups in Canada as I am there is a need for recognition that in order to move forward and become stronger as a nation we must first set aside our assumptions, educate ourselves, and become a truly national community.
In the meantime, I should probably help my wife and newborn son. Fireworks are cancelled but I have a busy day and weekend ahead!
Just a way to get a few thoughts across outside of the office. In this blog you may even find entries that assist in your healing without needing a session