Canadian National Identity and Indigenous Oppression
Currently writing a paper on Canadian National Identity and its impact on the oppression of Indigenous peoples. Seems pretty fitting for a day like today.
Here’s an excerpt:
Identities have always had a fundamental impact on Indigenous nations. As Miles and Brown note, various European explorations brought back negative representations of the Other serving to define and legitimate the ‘positive’ qualities of the author, the reader, and ultimately, West Europe and their citizens1. Thus, Western-Europeans deemed themselves superior by virtue of their “civilization,” as well as their achievements such as trade and exploration, and used these self-righteous notions of superiority to justify their colonial intrusion in the New World2. As Anthony Hall notes, extension into the New World was justified in the “language of religion,” that Christian rulers had the “authority” to override any rights held by “heathens” regarding their “own persons, governance, and lands”3. Now however, the Canadian national identity and the two dominant myths accompanying that - what I call “Canada as terra nullius” and “Canada as benevolent peacemaker” - serve to “indigenize” and legitimize Settler presence, subsequently delegitimizing Indigenous claims, hindering Indigenous resistance and the accumulation of Settler solidarity.
1Robert Miles and Malcolm Brown, “Representations of the Other,” Identity and Belonging: Rethinking Race and Ethnicity in Canadian Society,23.
2Miles and Brown, Ibid.
3Anthony Hall, The American Empire and the Fourth World, 47.
Being disdainful of Albertans/Ontarians/Quebeckers. (varies by region)
Being condescending towards Americans.
Not understanding how the parliamentary system works.
Not caring how the parliamentary system works.
Watching the CBC.
Complaining about the CBC.
Complaining about hockey.
Watching American news.
Intermittently putting on intentionally terrible southern accents for comic effect whilst talking about American politics.
Using hockey metaphors when talking about politics.
Using hockey metaphors when talking about the weather.
Using hockey metaphors when talking about hockey.
Not knowing who your MP is.
Complaining about the weather.
Complaining about all levels of government.
Collecting Canadian Tire money.
Complaining about mobile phone carriers.
Making fun of British Columbians who whinge when the temperature drops below 5 degrees and when it, god forbid, snows. (northern British Columbia and the rest of Canada)
Making fun of the rest of the still-blanketed-in-snow country whilst flowers are blooming in your garden in February. (southern British Columbia)
Being casually anti-American.
Trying to see if you can tear the new polymer bills.
The crazy thing about Canadian politics is that everybody and their dog has an opinion on American politics, because we get more media coverage for that than our own elections.
But nobody knows or cares what the hell is going on in Canadian politics cause nothing seems to change ever, so nobody votes, and subsequently we have a conservative government even though our country’s population is largely liberal and also, again, nobody knows what’s going on, ever.
If some smart person wanted to take over Canada they could literally do it in a week, nobody votes and nobody reads bills it’s a nuthouse.
Congrats, Conservatives, you are making UTTER FOOLS OF YOURSELVES.
So I live in residence, as most of you already know. The doors that open up onto the hallway are unlocked with card keys, the slots of which, of course, are perfect for sticking flyers into. People aren’t supposed to go around soliciting or leaving flyers or anything, but let’s be real here, that doesn’t stop anyone. And what with the election coming up, we’ve been getting a bunch of nice glossy little political flyers stuck in our key slots to encourage us to vote one way or the other.
Well, today, my roommate stepped out into the hall to go to her boyfriend’s place…
… and found this.
[Tchy, an androgynous white person with black wire-framed glasses, a faded blue-green fauxhawk, and an extremely amused expression, holds up a piece of cardstock. It is split into two colours (red on the top and black on the bottom). White text in the top half reads, “The last time it was cool to be a Liberal…” and in the bottom, it continues, “… Justin Bieber was just a baby.”]
WHAT THE HELL IS THIS.
The back just makes it even more ridiculous, of course.
[Tchy holds the paper close to the camera so the text on the back is visible. The background is blue, with white text. On the left is the Conservative Party’s Logo, a large white C with a red maple leaf in the centre. Under the logo, it says, “Join the Conservatives.” Beneath that is the website address CPCenergy.ca and a line of tiny white text at the bottom that is not legible. On the right side, it reads as follows.
“A lot can change in a few years.
“Like Justin Bieber’s voice.
“In Canada, the last time it was cool to be a Liberal, Justin Bieber was just a baby.
“Now Bieber makes millions singing “Baby, Baby, Baby,” and the Liberals are singing the blues.
“If you see a sad Liberal, tell them to grow up and join the party of today and the party of the future.
“Join the Conservatives.”]
Seriously, who thought this was a good marketing strategy? WHAT DOES JUSTIN BIEBER HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?
Not to mention, has he authorized his name for this? How does he feel about his name being used as part of a Conservative elections campaign? Seriously, what even.
Not to mention, some lovely ageist overtones there, congratulations Conservative party, that’s a brilliant way to win over young people.
And, if I can be actually serious here for a moment, it always sort of weirds me out when a conservative political party of any description bills themselves as “the party of the future.” Legitimately, I just don’t understand. Look back on history—sure, there have been decades of backsliding every now and then, but the overwhelming trend is for society (speaking specifically from my experience as a Canadian, but from my limited assessment this seems to apply to most of the rest of the world, too) to be getting less and less conservative as time goes by. We gain more social freedom, more political freedom, more rights… and yet people try to talk about conservative philosophy as the way of the future.
Look, conservatives—all of history is against you here. Today’s society is more liberal than it was fifty years ago, and fifty years ago it was more liberal than it was one hundred years ago. And people have been trying to “return to traditional values” for centuries, millennia even, and it hasn’t taken and the world has gotten more and more liberal, overall. So what, exactly, makes you think you’re going to be the ones to finally reverse that trend and make the society of fifty years into the future more conservative than it is today? That sounds really arrogant to me. Not to mention stubborn and pointless. Why would I join the side that history says is going to lose?
Especially with such a ridiculous marketing campaign. I mean, really.