The Canadian propensity for self-aggrandizement is in form these days. It started with the massive coverage of the arrival of Syrian refugees at Pearson International Airport in December. While many were drowning in self-congratulations, all I could think about was a scene from Woody Allen's 1973 film, Sleeper.
There is nothing intrinsically "Canadian," let alone "conservative," about leveraging insecurity, racism and xenophobia for votes through ethnic scapegoating. That is not a "conservative" strategy; it's a fascist strategy with a long and bloody history, and it has no place in Canada. On October 19th, we have a chance to "take our country back." We have the chance to declare once and for all that who and what we are as Canadians is no longer for sale. We have a chance to steer Canada off its collision course with history, to save it from derailing and crashing beyond our ability to recognize it, let alone repair it.
Aside from the ludicrous notion that anyone other than Canada's Native population is truly "old-stock Canadians," there is a certain divisive, chamber-pot snobbery to the term. It's not a celebration of "lineage," it's a wedge. It has no use other than to separate the speaker from others. Without even having to wonder why it was never used in our house, I know that my parents would have considered it vulgar. We are all "old-stock" Canadians, no matter where we're from, or how recently we've arrived.
The fact is our student populations are becoming more diverse, though that's barely mirrored in the staff make-up of most urban schools. And while there is recognition of a need to hire teachers that better reflect the student population, reaching that goal remains a long way off considering the comparably low number of teachers who self-identify as visible minorities. In the meantime, we need to foster culturally sensitive and inclusive schools where student engagement leads to higher graduation rates, the de-glamorization of gangs, and the nurturing of productive citizens of all backgrounds.
I don't understand why we can't just let ourselves be what we are: a weird little country with issues. Like Belgium or Switzerland or something. That's a great thing to be! It makes people curious. It would fit us so much better. Just a funny, comfortable nation that happens to have national debates about things like cereal box fonts. Why do we need to be the sort of place whose flag is featured on beer shirts? I don't know if the world really loves Canadians. I'm not about to get wasted and tell it that. But we haven't pissed it off that much -- not yet. We're kind of under the radar, you know, arguing about street signs and putting gravy on things. It could be worse.
Canada has lost one of its fiercest, most uncompromising, contentious and passionate pursuers of justice and equality, Mr. Charles Roach. On October 2, Roach passed away after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Of all his pursuits for a fairer and more just society, however, the most controversial of Roach's advocacy efforts was his push, since 1988, to get a Canadian court to recognize that it is a violation of individuals' constitutionally guaranteed freedom of conscience to require prospective Canadians to swear an oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.
There are many misconceptions about black Canadians and where they "belong." For this reason, I am a strong supporter of the Toronto District School Board's (TDSB) decision to open an Africentric high school for this coming September. What better institution than our public schools to dispel the widely held misconceptions that black people are inherently violent, criminal, loud, aggressive, hyper-sexed, unintelligent and lazy?
To many individuals and families around the world, Canada is rightfully regarded as a resettlement destination that offers immigrants and new Canadians a range of freedom. Why then, is there a legal obligation for individuals to take a solemn oath of allegiance to faithfully serve the Queen, her heirs and successors in order to gain full access to the democratic protections of Canadian citizenship?
Canada's soldiers suffered heavy casualties in the second half of 1944 in Normandy. Infantry units operated at half strength of less, their platoons frequently reduced to a dozen soldiers instead of the normal 30. And, the soldiers, grumbled, there were thousands of 'zombies,' or home defence conscripts, safe in Canada.