The debate about the removal of statues and renaming of buildings continues here in Canada and in the US. It sadly remains a contentious issue, which brings to light the hidden racism of our culture, and the fear and hate that keeps it in place. I think for alot of people its hard to understand why it matters. I hope to bring more light to the subject here.
In the US removal of some, enough and all confederate statuary seems like a very good and harmless idea, and one that can bring about real peace. They are symbols not only of racial injustice and inequality, but also of a divide in ideology and attitudes. Perhaps with the symbols gone, a real dialogue and united state can begin.
Here in Canada, there has been little support for the renaming of buildings and removal of statues, other than from progressives and our Federal government. The main concern seems to be about the removal of “our history” when statues are removed and building renamed. This shows that racism, while frowned upon here in Canada, is prevalent and hidden, not a conscious feeling, but there all the same.
While offending statues and building names are all of our shared history as Canadians, we all too, have our own histories. The Colonial story isn’t the only Canadian story. There is the First Nations story, the freed slaves story, the Chinese immigrant and Japanese immigrant story, the old and new immigrant stories as well. All are equally a part of Canada and all should be enshrined and protected as such.
I think changing building names, and removing statues, and replacing them with names and statues that all Canadians can celebrate is a good idea. A way forward into a better future and away from a past marred by the ignorance of its time. And perhaps we can enshrine histories equally Canadian. Schools named after multicultural great Canadians, or after positive values and hope, communities. Statues and monument for freed slaves, or in remembrance of the Chinese head tax, immigration ban and many Chinese workers who suffered and died building Canada’s great rail. In remembrance of the internment of Japanese Canadians. These too are a part of Canadian history and should be given equal merit and importance.
It’s very easy in our culture to fall into Colonial thinking. I do it myself subconsciously and I’m a non white immigrant. Granted, I was adopted as a child and raised in a WASP family and environment but still. Further full disclosure- I love “Colonial” culture and western culture. My race is Asian and Amerasian but my culture is basically traditional Colonial Canadian. Its the one I grew up in, am a part of and am comfortable with. My history, as is all our histories, is my own and Canada’s.
In spite of this, I still often wish for more racial inclusion and equality, and the best and most historical of all our histories, and stories being given equal placement and voice, something thankfully our present government and Prime Minister has taken seriously. This is what being Canadian is all about, cherishing our shared and individual cultures, and being open to make changes to bring about peace and reconciliation, to move forward a modern Canada, and let go of the shameful past.
Racism and hate are rising and we need to fight it today. To bring some peace and understanding through removal and renaming is a way of doing so. Remembering our history is of many people and cultures is also a way of doing so. Finding the common and peaceful ground between the traditional Colonial based Canada, the Canada of many histories and cultures, and the modern Canada of today. Our goal should be peace and equality and reconciliation. Whatever it takes, we should do what we can, and not be slaves to the fear, and hate that keeps racial inequality in place. Our Canada is and can be better than that, and we should embrace ideas that will bring us to that reality.