featured Racism

Angela Bowden: Do not wish me a happy Canada Day

Angee Bowden. Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – To those wishing to celebrate in a vacuum this beautiful Canada that they see, remember that the experience today isn’t shared with everybody.

Not because we’re party poopers or Debbie downers. Not because we find fault in everything and certainly not because we want to ruin your fun. Hearing Happy and Canada in the same sentence can be very triggering for Black and Indigenous people. It’s like a rapist to the #Metoo movement, Canada is our rapist. 

Hearing Happy associated with somebody’s perpetrator of their genocide and trauma does not go well together. And, at this stage in the game with racial tensions and crimes at an escalating high in Canada and indeed the world,  hearing Happy Canada Day can be significantly triggering for those being abused by Canada and all of its systems!

When I hear Happy Canada day I remember all of the crimes Canada has perpetrated in the past on Black and Indigenous people. Starting with their active role in the Trans Atlantic slave trade and the building of slave ships in Atlantic Canada.

I think of all of the systemic, institutional and environmental racism that Canada is currently perpetrating and ignoring.

I think of the layers of scars Canada has inflicted for centuries and the decades of wounds they refuse to acknowledge and heal.

I think of our children’s safety in a country they are expected to stand on guard for that doesn’t protect or stand on guard for them. 

I think about the multiple micro and macro aggressions we experience daily in businesses, by strangers walking down the street and from moving vehicles.

I think about the confederate flags flying in our province, on license plates and these fixtures or statues of conquer that are proudly displayed by “Canadians”

I think of the justified  fear Black parents and children have by simply trying to exist and attempting to participate in Canada.

I think of the systemic barriers Canada refuses to address in education, healthcare, housing and justice.

I think of the NCA that was granted a permit in our province to spew hate in Halifax.

I think about the Lions Club in Truro that granted them space and then by strong public response were pressured to cancel.

I think about them showing up in Truro anyway and being more protected by law enforcement then the people they set out to make feel inferior and unsafe.

I think about Cape Breton who originally granted them the legion before rescinding it.

I think about the chaos they orchestrated throughout Ontario that was protected under freedom of hate speech.

I think of the Canadians that Canada refuses to protect.

I think of  Nhlanhla Dlamini and the vicious hate crime he was subjected to in Canada and the refusal to label it as such in Pictou County.

I think about the it’s ok to be white campaign that was swept under the rug.

I think about the NSCC “How not to ECE” decorated racist door in Yarmouth.

I think about the 9 year old in Dartmouth who was locked outside the school and had the police called on him.

I think about Santina Rao, a black mother who was beaten by police in Walmart on Mumford Road in Halifax in front of her small children.

I think of Regis who died in police presence in Toronto after a wellness check gone fatally wrong and we still have no answers.

I think about our elder who was tased for a parking violation.

I think about my sons who had the police called on them by Mcdonalds employees because they were returning a wrong order after dark which made employees uneasy and had 3 cruisers that showed up to address them.

I think of all of the tenants renting while black who are subjected to vexatious and frivolous complaints consistently. 

I think about the various families who were assaulted with racist hate epithets spray painted on their property .

I think about the sports parents and players who are subjected to this hate while trying to play sports or watch a loved ones game.

I think about the people attacked on public transit or walking down the street with hate speech and threats by these stellar “Canadians”.

I think about the 6 year old baby girl who was hogtied and shackled in Hamilton, Ontario.

I think about the ongoing  police harassment at our justice and anti racist rallies.

I think about the racist street checks that no one will apologize for or correct.

I think about the reparations that is overdue to restore our communities and repair the generational damage.

See, my mind fills up with pain and trauma when I hear “Happy Canada Day” because it is not Happy Canada for Black and Indigenous people. 

So pardon me if I must speak the truth and ruin the comfort of your holiday but I will not be gaslit into ignoring the truth – Canada is not the happy multicultural mosaic they tout- Canada has problems, historic and contemporary that we need to address!

So if today isn’t celebrated by everyone the way “you” think it should be please remember this fact- Canada Day can be one of the biggest triggers to its many victims. #UBUNTU

With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.

Subscribe to the Nova Scotia Advocate weekly digest and never miss an article again. It’s free!