Published: June 26, 2022
If the goal is to make Canada more inclusive, how is that achieved by cancelling Canada Day?
At the Forks in Winnipeg, there will be no Canada Day this year. Instead, there will be a new day called, unimaginatively enough, New Day.
Since the Forks is Winnipeg’s busiest gathering place with more than 4 million visitors a year, its Canada Day celebration has traditionally been the largest in Manitoba.
But this year, instead of bands and fireworks, there will be (according to the Forks website) a day devoted to reflection, inclusion and “fun for everyone.”
Don’t worry, the traditional speeches by politicians will still be offered. So if you’re more than a little masochistic, and speeches are the main Canada Day attraction for you, you’ll still get your fill of politicos’ pontifications.
But what if you’re proud of Canada, warts and all? What if you want to blow off a little midsummer’s steam and rejoice in what this country has done right while also acknowledging (but not dwelling on) things it may have done wrong?
What if your idea of inclusion is trying to craft a festival that will showcase the contribution of many cultures to the Canadian nation, and help us all understand and respect one another by having fun together, rather than an event that sounds like the equivalent of donning a hairshirt and subjecting yourself to purifying flagellation?
And what if, in the process of cancelling Canada Day, organizers alienate people who are proud of the country and like the annual celebration? Don’t those people deserve to be included in the official inclusiveness, too?
Or are only the people who accept the “woke” version of our country’s history to have a July 1 event?
I fail to see how inclusiveness and reconciliation are advanced if the people politically correct crusaders believe are the most in need of being educated are discouraged from coming.
Edmonton is going ahead with its Canada Day events. Vancouver, too. And both of those cities have Indigenous populations in the range of Winnipeg’s.
Edmonton’s attitude is “Canada Day marks the anniversary of Confederation and also offers us time to grieve, learn, reflect, commit to understanding the truth and move ahead towards reconciliation.” But also to celebrate. Together.
Vancouver says it’s C-Day events will seek to “weave together the fabric of the nation.”
We just held National Indigenous Peoples’ Day (which is more widely known as orange-shirt day) and in September, we will commemorate the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (or as the PM calls, National Surfin’ in Tofino Day).
Those two commemorations are much better suited to reflection and contemplation on such issues as how to overcome the still very real fallout from the residential school system.
I believe Canada Day would be more useful if it showed us how to have fun together, how to enjoy each others’ company, to share a country as one and have a good time doing it.
White “progressives” may welcome yet another day set aside for beating themselves up for the crimes of colonialism and for refusing to see any of the good done by European settlers. But ordinary Canadians need to party once in a while.
Besides, our country deserves more respect than another official day in which its achievements are minimized, even disparaged.
Do problems – real, significant problems – remain? Of course. We need always to work at ensuring fairness, equality and justice for everyone. Every country does.
Canada is a work in progress.
But getting rid of Canada Day is similar to the Trudeau government flying our flag at half mast for months on end to recognize deaths at residential schools. In the end, it was counterproductive.