What we for­get

The Walrus - - LETTERS -

In her in­sight­ful es­say (“The Cana­dian Nar­ra­tive about Slav­ery Is Wrong,” the­wal­rus. ca), Char­maine Nel­son points out that, on the is­sue of slav­ery, Cana­di­ans have buried our un­com­fort­able truths — and done our­selves a ter­ri­ble dis­ser­vice. Like all coun­tries, we edit our col­lec­tive sto­ries to make them more di­gestible. Prior to 2003, for ex­am­ple, my un­der­stand­ing of the war of 1812 ex­tended only to Sir Isaac Brock, Laura Secord, and Te­cum­seh. Now I know that the story is much more nu­anced, and has many more char­ac­ters. Not only were black Cana­dian soldiers in­volved in the war — they also fought in the fa­mous bat­tle of Queen­ston Heights.

Ian Gard­ner

Mis­sis­sauga, ON

Canada has a long his­tory of anti-black racism. In 1957, one of our neigh­bours in Amher­stview, On­tario, cir­cu­lated a pe­ti­tion de­mand­ing that the de­vel­oper re­scind the sale of a house to a black fam­ily. In the 1960s, Nova Sco­tia still had some seg­re­gated black-only pub­lic schools. And I re­mem­ber white Cana­di­ans shout­ing racial ep­i­thets as they drove past black peo­ple in down­town Halifax in 1975. Sadly, one doesn’t have to look back to 1833 to find racial in­tol­er­ance in Canada.

Dou­glas Mck­ercher

Ot­tawa, ON

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