Canada Day musings

When I was a boy there were hardly any indigenous people to be seen in most parts of Saskatchewan. We knew they were out there somewhere, safely confined to Indian Reservations.

Times have changed, indigenous people are making a place for themselves in the economic, cultural and social life of our province.

The current Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan is Russell Mirasty, whose mother tongue is Cree. The office is mostly symbolic and ceremonial, but he fills it with dignity. Before being named to this position he served 36 years in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, eventually rising to be assistant commissioner and commanding officer of the Saskatchewan RCMP.

He is an example of how the ugliness of many things in our history can be overcome. It is pure foolishness to try to erase the past, it is the present that is in our power to change.

Some people want the Canadian government to pardon Louis Riel. The elected leader of the Métis Nation of Canada does not agree. A pardon would not change the historical fact that in 1885 Riel was tried for treason, found guilty and hung in Regina to satisfy the hatred of the Orange Order for people who were not White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Furthermore, it was not a Canadian court that conducted the trial. In 1885 what is now Saskatchewan was still a British colony.

Cancel culture, wokeism, blaming people who are white and/or Christian for the evils of the past, will not build a happier future. These are simply new faces put on the prejudices and hatreds of the past. We need to look within ourselves and root out prejudices, not just change their appearance.

There are a few gas bars in Saskatoon run by indigenous businesses. They are clean, offer fast and friendly service, and are always busy.

I recently spent a couple of days in a local small town hospital. I was under the care of a dynamic young lady doctor who originates from India. The nurses and other staff were probably mostly local, but a few had a skin colour or an accent that told of a different origin. They were all caring, competent and cheerful.

These are the sort of things that give me hope for the future of Canada. It is good to be aware of the mistakes of the past, that helps us understand the problems of today. But let’s not allow old attitudes to make us part of the problem. The solution lies in the little things, being kind and respectful to every person we meet. Today is all that we have to work with.

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