New Canadiana By King Kendi
What does that even mean?
First let’s talk about being Canadian.
What does that even mean? Especially now after so much truth has come to the surface.
Most of my life, I've either been too Canadian, not Canadian enough or not Canadian at all.
Simply being Black has meant people assume I am foreign even though Canada has Black folx that go as far back as pre-colonization.
In Immigrant spaces, I am way too Canadian for my aunties' liking.
Too much sexual liberation, too much talk about politics, too much this, too much that.
Canada has made me an outsider while affording me the right to be myself.
In the last few years, I have grappled with the shame of being Canadian.
A new feeling for me but a common feeling for those who knew Canada's truths.
Collectively we are now carrying shame, embarrassment and uncertainty.
The history of Canada is full of so many lies, so many secrets.
So what is Canada’s truth?
It’s from residential schools to murdering babies in the name of colonization.
From dumping toxic waste in Africa and Asia to coups in Latin America.
From modelling the nation after apartheid South Africa to supporting the ongoing violence on Palestinians.
From denying clean drinking water to Indigenous communities to displacing Black communities.
From denying inherent fishing rights to Indigenous people to destroying our old growth forests.
From wrongful attempts to deport international students to criminalizing racialized folx for mental health struggles.
It's almost as though everywhere I turn lately, there is only bad to be told about Canada.
It sucks to feel this way about a place I love.
I am grateful for the flags at half mast because it is a reminder of this heavy feeling of there being little to nothing left to celebrate about Canada.
Maybe the beautiful landscape but even that doesn't belong to us settlers.
And it really shouldn't be this hard to give back something that belongs to others.
So yeah I'm embarrassed. And if you're not then you are not listening to the truths that have been coming out for/of the last 150 years.
So wtf do I mean by the new Canadiana?
It's a Canada that recognizes its dirty past and makes an active choice to clean it up.
We want a clean, green future; it starts with finding the right people to show you where the red stains are. Not everyone can see the stains, because many of us are blinded by the privileges of class, race or gender.
But... the right people are showing up … en masse.
The right people are you.
The racialized folx.
BIPOC from all over the world.
Perfect timing folx.
Real talk, Canada needs immigrants. The Canadian economy is not sustainable without immigrant labour. Those pensions will not take care of Canadian seniors without the low paying labour of Black and Brown bodies.
Canada and the US are invested in destroying foreign lands, physically and economically, because this forces racialized labour into the west.
How is this any more than the new Jim Crow? Modern day slavery?
As more racialized folx arrive, they need to know this truth.
And other truths such as; the colonial violence imposed on Indigenous people here is the same violence imposed on our ancestral homelands.
In the new Canadiana,
We need all Canadians to be educated on the truth that is Canada so that immigrants can connect the dots.
What caused them harm at home is rooted right here in their new home.
Some scary shit tbvh.
In the new Canadiana, however, we have something that many of our ancestors did not have... the right to vote.
The carrot that is usually dangled to racialized folx is the opportunity to become a Canadian citizen. That shiny blue passport!!
Once a citizen, you have the right to vote and participate in the electoral process.
Voting, participating in politics is power.
Many many people fought for ALL of us to get the right to vote.
Voting is a powerful right which is why many of our ancestors died to make sure we had that right.
In the new Canadiana, we all vote.
We need to remember that little check on a piece of paper can literally change a country.
In the new Canadiana, by simply voting and participating in elections, we can hold Canada accountable for the wrongs done here and done in the far off lands we call home. True love needs accountability, we can truly love Canada by holding our beloved country accountable for its wrongs and for all the embarrassment and shame it caused - and continues to cause.
In the new Canadiana, we become the elected officials that push for Indigenous leadership and a genuine transfer of land and power back to the original owners of this land.
We need to actually make reconciliation a priority rather than a token to get votes.
We need to acknowledge that the Canadian racial demographic is quickly changing not necessarily by choice but by need.
My favourite stat is that Indigenous communities are the fastest growing communities in Canada, Imagine that! after a genocide that murdered 96% of our Indigenous siblings.
We all have to make sure Indigenous communities thrive because we are all benefiting off their land.
In the new Canadiana we have political debates in Mi’kmaq. We have leaders of so many races vying for the top elected position. Not the status quo we have had for the last 150 years.
We will have leaders that carry blood memory of colonial violence and will therefore prioritize doing right by Indigenous communities.
We should all support a transfer of power that will give Canada true independence. Something she has never had.
Bruh, It's 2021. It's time. It's been time.
If anything, in the new Canadiana, we are the majority.
And our politics must reflect that.
So, go out and vote.
And for the next election become a candidate or if you know someone that can lead your community, nominate them, press them to step up to a big plate.
In the new Canadiana we say no more.
We are not second tier citizens.
We are simply Canadian citizens that use our right to vote and the electoral process to do right by this magnificent country we all call home.
Artist & Political Scientist