Watching the Royals yesterday at their welcoming ceremony at the Victoria legislature got me to thinking of some of the hypocrisy of these visits with respect to certain elements of the welcoming committee. It wasn’t too long ago that the Mayor of Victoria and four of the city’s councillors refused to swear allegiance to the Queen. Irrelevant they suggested and the Mayor herself offered her support only to First Nations. Huh, well hey, what about me??
In 2015 the Nanaimo city council cut off funding to the annual Empire Day’s organizing committee, unless they changed their name to something less offensive to First Nations. Oh I know: “Queen and Country Days”
“Times are changing,” said Nanaimo City Councillor Diane Brennan. “The term empire is hurtful. It’s a reminder of colonization and oppression of the indigenous people and it’s caused great suffering.”
Emmy Manson, a councillor with the local Snuneymuxw First Nation, agrees.
“I guess for me it triggers some old history that really isn’t positive for our people,” said Manson.
That history includes residential schools, loss of language and culture and displacement. (sorry to say but this had nothing to do with the Brits)
Manson said she and other Snuneymuxw people do not attend the event because of its connotation.
“I get why we celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday,” said Manson. “I think that’s what it ought to be called.” (CBC, 22 Jan 2015)
Well excuse me for a minute Ms Manson but Queen Victoria was the figurehead of that dastardly evil empire that triggers the micro-aggression you refer to.
Taking the City of Nanaimo’s lead, perhaps now is the time to change the name of the Victoria Day celebrations to one that is less offensive to local First Nations. After all Queen Victoria, our city’s namesake, represents all that was bad about the British Empire: its colonialism, its trade, economic growth, rule of law, common law, security, individual rights and freedoms, civilization, Magna Carta, infrastructure, semblance of order and, of course, the poor treatment that First Nations people had to endure under the Victorian British brand – as opposed to – the continual inter-tribe warrior raids and inter-band savagery, discrimination and slavery. Taking Nanaimo’s logic to its proper conclusion, I would suggest that now is also the time that we change the name of Victoria to Camosun, a name which better reflects our First Nation history and heritage. After all those dastardly Brits oversaw Nanaimo and Victoria for a full 17 years from 1853-1871 and 28 years from 1843-1871 respectively. The Canadian government has been responsible for things well after that. How well you may ask?? Well for about 150 years, that’s how well!
And well (sic) we are at it I would also suggest and strongly recommend that we change the name of Canada Day to something less offensive. After all the Canadian government, and not Great Britain, has governed Victoria and the Province of B.C., since 20 July, 1871. In that vein the Canadian government and not Great Britain represents: broken aboriginal promises and treaties; the reserve paradigm; repression of Metis during the Red River / Northwest Rebellion (1870, 1885); the execution of Louis Riel and imprisonment and subsequent death of Poundmaker, Big Bear and many of their of his brethren; residential schools; the Indian Act; the segregation and discrimination of Chinese immigrants in accordance with the Chinese Immigration and Exclusion Act(s); the sequester and internment of all Japanese Canadians after 1941; internment of Ukranian and Italian Canadians; the refusal to allow refugees of Indian origin entry into Vancouver in 1914 (the Komagata Maru incident); the refusal to accept 900 Jewish refugees into Canada in 1939 (St Louis Incident), which probably ensured their imminent deaths under a Nazi regime; the Chinese Head Tax; the Duplessis Regime; the Orange Order’s anti Catholic movement and religious discrimination; refusal to recognize women as persons from 1867 – 1930; Africville and the segregation of blacks in eastern and central Canada until 1964; and, the Canadian government “black” list goes on and on.
Oh we can be so smug, can’t we?
How I hate hypocrisy!
By the way, at yesterday’s welcoming ceremony, the Governor General’s wife reminded me of a Leprechaun in that outfit she was wearing. The Prince’s Equerry seemed to be more of a hindrance than a help.
Will and Kat looked great. With George and Charlotte they make the perfect family. Hope they have a great time.
Note: I am not a rabid monarchist per se. Heck, I used to shoot spit balls from my pea shooter at the Queen’s picture when I was a kid in school. No, but I do respect our heritage and culture and the contributions made by the British over the years. And I do respect the Commonwealth of Nations: an August body of diverse countries and nations that share a common heritage of sorts. And to me that is a lot better than that farcical United Nations. It is something to embrace, not discard.