Thursday, July 1, 2021

On July 1st, 1867 the British North American Act was signed. This marked the official formation of “Canada” as the land had been claimed as the property of colonial settlers. For years, Indigenous students and community members have expressed the pain of witnessing celebrations of land theft and colonial violence against Indigenous peoples and the land. We must disrupt the narrative that “Canada” is a land of peace and freedom.  

“Canada Day” is a celebration of land theft and genocide. Indigenous peoples’ historical and ongoing trauma continues to be intensified by “Canadian” state violence. Especially at a time when hundreds of children’s graves are beginning to be uncovered on sites of residential schools in Kamloops, Brandon, and across Saskatchewan, there is no reason for celebration. This is a time of mourning, reflection, and most importantly, reparatory action.

Collectively, we must recognize the truth behind the “Canadian” state and its treatment of Indigenous peoples. Whether it be the legacy of residential schools, the lack of funding to end boil water advisories, staggering amounts of police brutality, the child welfare system or the inability to have honest dialogue of the legacy of colonialism in our classrooms, colonialism and anti-Indigenous racism is deeply rooted and at the foundation of our society. As many Indigenous communities have said, reconciliation is dead. The only way forward is to give the land back.

Toronto is in the ‘Dish With One Spoon Territory’. The Dish With One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and peoples, all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect. Peace and Friendship Treaties such as the Dish with one spoon were very early treaties. These were mostly about partnerships and helping each other, not land acquisition. These treaties more closely follow Indigenous traditions of treaty making in comparison to eurocentric/European methods of written contracts. As treaty people (all “Canadians” are treaty people), we have a collective duty to unlearn colonial notions of land as property rather than a relationship that needs to be tended to in order to sustain life.