Saturday, January 1, 2022

What does being a Canadian mean to me?

Two years ago, starting on January 7’th, there were a series of protests in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en First Nations. At the time I did not know what was happening, and did not have a clue what people could mean by “Shut Down Canada.”

This launched a journey for me to learn more about what Canada is and is not, which corrected many myths I was told growing up.
 

1492

While there is considerable evidence that pacific islanders had been doing trade with this continent for centuries, this is when Italian Christopher Columbus is claimed to have “Discovered” what some now call the Americas. Contrary to myth he never traveled to the northern continent, even though the USA celebrates him. It was Italian Amerigo Vespucci that is the source of the name that European colonialists called these continents.

1493

The Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope, issued more in a series of Papel bulls where he created the “Doctrine of Discovery''. This is the offensive concept that if land was not claimed by a European Christian Monarchy, that Christians could claim it (and all its inhabitants, human or otherwise) for themselves. While this policy led to centuries of colonialism, slavery and genocide, this institution has yet to apologize or pay reparations for the harm it causes.

Some people are finally upset at what is now called the Catholic Church, what the original Roman Christian branch was called when other branches were formed. They are finally aware of what this institution did in Indian Residential Schools, but that is merely the surface of what this institution is responsible for.

Late 1500's and early 1600's

In the early years there was trade being done with the peoples of this land. Larger problems emerged in the late 1500's and early 1600's when Europeans started to form settlements.

The correct way to immigrate into another nation is to naturalize to the existing laws and customs. While some Europeans did that, most did not. When they traveled across the ocean, they brought with them a series of barbaric cultural practices and beliefs which they then fought to impose on the more socially advanced nations and peoples of these continents.

It is important to remember that the Europeans forming settlements were subjects of Christian Monarchies, while some nations as well as leagues of Nations such as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy has been an advanced participatory democracy since 1192CE. In 2022, Canada's top-down hierarchical systems of governance are still generations away from catching up.

 

What do I consider to be some of the top barbaric beliefs and practices that Europeans brought?

 

  • Religious supremacy, and with it forced religious conversion and genocide. Christians fought with other religious branches that prayed to the same God of Abraham (Judaism, Islam, etc), but did not treat as human those not of Abrahamic faiths which they called "pagans".
  • Male supremacy, also known as Androcentrism -- the notion that males should have all political power, and women should be treated as property.
  • Human supremacy, also known as Anthropocentrism - the notion that humans are above the rest of creation, and that the rest of creation only has value in how it benefits humans.
  • The notion that land is something that can be "owned" rather than "stewarded". From this grew the concept of "exclusivity without responsibility", the core of western European notions of property law.
  • The notion that descendants should inherit privileges (monetary or otherwise) but never obligations. If a grandparent or other ancestor steals something, the grandchild or other descendant believes they are owed value from that theft rather than have responsibility for reparations.
 

Late 1600's through 1700's

Spanish, British, French, and Dutch colonists came. Through the 1600's and 1700's these Europeans fought with each other for exclusive European involvement in these continents, sometimes with Indigenous Nations as allies.

While the British were the last European nation that officially remained, as all others ceded any claims to the mainland, the British settlers were divided in how much respect for their own laws and the laws of the land they were willing to accept. Lack of respect (for other peoples, for the rule of law, for international treaties and law, etc) remains a defining trait of the European involvement on this continent.


1701

Great Peace of Montreal, also known as the Dish With One Spoon treaty, included the French signing a peace agreement with the (then) Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe Nations.

The Tuscaroras joined the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in 1722 to become the 6th Nation.

1763

After the Seven Years War (1756-1763), The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued by King George III. This established the basis for governing territories on this continent surrendered by France to Britain, as well as the constitutional structure requiring respect for treaties with Indigenous Nations.

1764

Treaty of Niagara at Fort Niagara, when approximately 2000 First Nations chiefs gathered to create a peace and friendship treaty with the British. This was intended to bring the British into normal relationship with Nations on this continent. If the British had any respect for the laws of the land or their own laws this continent would be a very different place than it is today.

1774

Additional concessions were granted to French loyalists via the Quebec Act of 1774.

1775

The British government had granted concessions to French settlers and recognized inherent rights of Indigenous Nations. The British crown also required that the colonist beneficiaries of the inter-European wars on this continent should pay for the wars.

This is all that was required for the most barbaric thirteen of the British colonies to launch a war to separate from the British crown.

The British, claiming they were protecting everyone from the British separatists in those 13 colonies, violated the Royal Proclamation through their own western expansion. This will feel ironic today given so many "Canadians" claim that the United States is "our" closest ally, when in fact Canada was largely formed through claiming that the United States was the greatest threat.

1784

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy allied with the British against the separatists that formed the United States. As compensation for the loss of land south of the Great Lakes, Sir Frederick Haldimand, the governor of Quebec, granted the Confederacy Six miles each side of the Grand River in 1784

"Canada" has been denying this grant since that British subsidiary was created, and continues its dishonest attempts to steal land and wealth to this day. (See: Haudenosaunee Confederacy Announce Moratorium on Haldimand Tract, April 20, 2021)

1812

Further disrespect by the southern separatists, although it is widely reported that after this war the British no longer felt the need to respect Indigenous treaty allies as the British no longer felt the need for military allies as they ceased pursuing disputes with the separatists.

1861-1865

Wars get named by the victor, so when a subset of the separatists tried to further separate it was only called a civil war rather than a revolutionary war.


Territorial Expansion from 1867

In 1867, a small number of white men in a white minority part of the world asked the British parliament to pass the first of 11 bills entitled "British North America Act", which the British used to manage what they branded as the "Dominion of Canada".  (Dominion inspired by the Christian Bible, with that phrase used in many places including Psalm 72:8 and Genesis 1:26-28.  Canada has never been a secular government).

The Canadian Government offers a series of maps of key points in the history of this British colony. It comes with descriptions which read as colonial propaganda, and do not match any less biased interpretation of history. Maps discuss land, but the British never had title to this land so what these maps are discussing is regions which British created governments claimed some alleged right to govern.

 

  • 1867: The non-separatist British colonies of "Canada" (Previously Quebec, and then Upper/Lower Canada), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were joined. The colony of "Canada" was separated into "Ontario" and "Quebec". This new set of governments was formed to be part of the British Empire, effectively a corporate subsidiary of the British government.
  • 1870: Canada claims it acquires land from the Hudson's Bay Company, even though the Hudson's Bay Company did not own any land. What they owned was an exclusive patent granted by the British Crown to do business in a region. Manitoba created from this area the British called the North-West Territories.
  • 1871: In violation of the Royal Proclamation, the small number of white men who had no title to an area they called British Columbia are alleged to join the "federation".
  • 1873: British colonialists in an area they called Prince Edward Island join the "federation".
  • 1874: Boundaries of Ontario are extended into NWT. The Ontario government also provides a series of maps from 1774-1912 of regions they claim to govern.
  • 1876: District of Keewatin created within NWT.
  • 1880: British unilaterally claim the rest of the North, other than colonies of Newfoundland and those claimed by the United States and France (St Pierre and Miquelon).
  • 1881: Manitoba territorial expansion.
  • 1882: Districts of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Athabaska and Alberta formed out of NWT, to install settler governments to impose British rule in areas where a railway was being built.
  • 1886: Keewatin and Saskatchewan boundaries adjusted.
  • 1889: Ontario expanded yet again.
  • 1895: Districts of Ungava, Mackenzie, Yukon, and Franklin created from NWT. Athabasca and Keewatin enlarged. 
  • 1897: Adjustments of NWT district boundaries.
  • 1898: Yukon separated from NWT to become a separate territorial government. Boundaries of Quebec unilaterally extended into NWT Ungava district.
  • 1901: Yukon territory expanded into NWT
  • 1905: Alberta and Saskatchewan unilaterally imposed, granting southern colonialist control over northern district of Athabasca. The anti-democratic gerrymandering involved in this is obvious, given the so-called Alberta oil sands are in the district of Athabasca.
  • 1912: Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba imposed northward, again an obvious gerrymandering to grant southern colonial power over the north. As with Alberta and Saskatchewan, much of the resource extraction in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec are on lands which these "provinces" were allegedly granted control over via this gerrymandering.
  • 1920: Boundary expansions into NWT formalized.
  • 1927: Newfoundland, still a separate British colony, is granted expansion into "Quebec" by the British government.
  • 1949: Newfoundland government joins the federation; some say because the British starved them out and were given no choice. (See: British North America Act 1949)
  • 1982: While not listed on the map, this is when the Canada Act was passed by the British parliament. Up until this termination of power to legislate for Canada, the British government had more control over the laws of Canada than any body on this continent. This is the point at which Canada became eligible to be considered a democracy, although I don't consider it sufficient. 
  • 1999: Nunavut becomes territory out of land previously part of NWT.

 

What do I take from what I have learned over the last two years?

I will use point-form


  • Canada is not what I was told growing up.
  • Canada is a set of governments unilaterally imposed on this homeland by the British to be a subsidiary of the British Empire and promote British laws and worldviews.
  • I am not British, and I don't live in Europe.
  • While my Irish, Scottish and French ancestors have been treated very badly by the British (and those who assimilated and became loyal to the British), that does not allow me or other non-Indigenous people to claim to be victims of colonialism or British conquest on this continent.
  • I do not have to be stuck in the past, and can move beyond the fact that I am a descendant of European colonists.
  • If I am not Indigenous, and not fighting for Indigenous Rights, then I am complicit with the ongoing violation of those rights. It doesn't matter when my ancestors immigrated and didn't naturalize to a domestic Indigenous government, I am still complicit.
  • I do not consider "Canada" to be the name of this place, which has retained many names since long before European contact.
  • I do not consider "Canada" to be the group of people who currently live on these lands, nor do I consider those governments to be democratic.
  • Canada is not a protector of human rights and democracy, but is guilty of ongoing genocide.
  • I do not have to adhere to what I now consider to be the barbaric cultural practices that European colonists brought with them. I can instead reject them, and politically work both as an individual and a member of the larger society to naturalise to Indigenous worldviews and laws.
  • While the Canadian and Ontario governments claim me as a citizen, there is no reason for me to be loyal to them. I have loyalty to the land that has sustained me my entire life, and the peoples who have stewarded these lands for thousands of years.