Oh Canada

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Oh Canada.

I was born into your endless woods, your whispering streams, your mesmerizing seas.

I have always loved you, been a part of you, an extension. The city has separated us, but the years have given me knowledge. At least the ringing in my ear and the gnawing at my soul that there was more. More to learn about me. More to learn about you.

You were never mine to begin with. Yet knowing that i love you more. More fiercely. To honour you as my soul came to you.

Kwéleches. My name is Deanna. My people are from England and Scotland, but I was blessed to be born on the lands of the Kwantlen First Nation. Later, my family moved to the land of the Katzie First Nation. Now I live on the lands of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam First Nations.

I have touched on the topic of being a first generation born Canadian, and of learning my identity. I know I can’t be the only one. I am not of the land my parents came from, but how much can i be from this land?

I felt a connection to the grassy shores of Scotland, but I didn’t know her landscape. So I stand again where my heart knows north and my feet know earth and i can close my eyes but still see her features. The skyline. The mountains. The shoreline.

I stand here with renewed purpose. As we all should. To care for the land I love, to merge with her once again.

Learning our past is a great place to start.

This weekend I watched the Tragically Hip’s last concert and Gord Downie’s interview with Peter Mansbridge. Last year I watched the Secret Path and learned the story of Chanie Wenjack. His is one of many. I love watching Future History - showcase of reclaiming Indigenous knowledge and power. What many of us were taught in the history books was not the whole truth. At best a dry recollection of events told without passion. Without mention of the broken promises, broken hearts, or strong souls. I am happy to say it seems that the current in the school system may be changing. My teenage son has shared more important history than i remember learning. Maybe it is because we are becoming more aware. In any case we need to take it upon ourselves. One of my favourite quotes by Dr Maya Angelou implores us:

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

I believe listening to Indigenous knowledge is the first part of that. To become educated on the past so we can work together for our future. Imagine if honouring Indigenous knowledge and rights was what was done in the first place?

In his interview Gord said:

The last 150 years aren't as much worth celebrating as we think. But the new 150 years can be years of building an actual nation. Imagine if they were part of us and we them, how incredibly cool it would make us?

We must do the hard work to count ourselves so lucky. While some may criticize Gord and the attention he received, I am grateful for his message and his voice that may open the eyes of many and bring attention to this important subject. He set an example for all of us.

So how can we start? I am by no means an expert, but I am learning.

Lets start by learning about the land we live on and acknowledge it.

Now let’s go check out this list of 149 more calls to action, and let's get started. Together.

Deanna FongComment