Alternative Canada150 celebrations protest settler-colonialism
On June 29, days before the Canada 150 celebration, a demonstration took place in protest of the ongoing settler-colonialism that has pervaded Canada’s existence. The event was organized by the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG), CKUT Radio, and Midnight Kitchen. These groups hoped to emphasize the event’s focus on the real history of Canada’s 150 years of existence, and how colonialism has impacted the preexisting communities of Indigenous peoples, more specifically, the Mohawk community.
The event raised money for the Karihwanoron Mohawk Immersion School, a program that incorporates Indigenous language and cultures into a non-traditional approach to education. Participants addressed the events of June 28, when Indigenous protestors were barred from setting up a teepee outside of Parliament as part of a Canada Day protest. Guest Speaker Stephen Puskas spoke to the audience about Informed racism, a form of sympathy where one knows about the issue but remains silent and complicit towards perpetuating settler- colonialist violence. Puskas encouraged members of the audience to take tangible action towards dismantling colonialism by engaging with the government, “Start approaching the Department of Education for example. […] You need to update your textbook. You need to have Indigenous people involved in telling their own story.” .
The North American Indigenous Games took place this summer between July 16 and 23 in Toronto. 5,000 young athletes from across Turtle Island (North America) competed in 14 different sports in an effort to facilitate inter-nation sportsmanship, and further develop relations between indigenous communities across the continent. This year’s games emphasized Article 88 of the Truth and Reconciliation Act, which is a call to action for the Canadian government to support Indigenous youth athletics. The two-hour opening ceremony at York University featured musical guests Taboo and A Tribe Called Red. Speakers at the celebration explicitly examined the effect of Canada 150 on Indigenous peoples in the settler- colonialist context. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde finished his speech by saying: “it’s you young people, and your children and grandchildren, that are going to write the next story over the next 150 years. And it’s going to be bright, and you’re going to do it in a great way.”
Eastern Door and the North were the overall champions of the games, which were the first to include women’s lacrosse. . In an interview with the Daily, President Stephen Kwinter said “[The Games] give us the great opportunity to showcase Aboriginal cultures and achievements…we want to celebrate the future of these achievements, and we want to do so as a cooperative effort.”