O Kanata

Photo above: Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada (1996)

In Canada, many unresolved issues regarding our First Nations, including broken land treaties, uneven distribution of resources, and the aftermath of socio-economic problems from residential school policies, to name a few, demand awareness and the effort of all Canadians (indigenous and not) to work towards fair and respectful solutions. The recent searches that have uncovered hundreds of unmarked graves at residential schools in the provinces of British Columbia and Saskatchewan, have fuelled the need to re-assess the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings and call for action by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.  Although sadly not surprising, it was still a shock to learn that all those children died and, for so many years, their families never recovered their bodies or had closure.  Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde posted on Twitter: “I urge all Canadians to stand with First Nations in this extremely difficult and emotional time”; we join in prayer that these findings, as painful as they are, will allow true healing to begin, and ultimately allay some of the pain, towards real reconciliation.

In the cosmopolitan context of modern-day Canada, many see the country as a cultural melting pot, but Canadians still prefer the model of a cultural mosaic, in which each tile (culture) has a defined place in the scene, forming something more than the fusion of all parts in a cauldron; First Nations should play a central part in this image.   To acknowledge the First Nations as the original inhabitants of this land, we have to go no further than to remember that even the country’s name has an indigenous origin, coming directly from the Saint-Lawrence Iroquoian word kanata or canada, meaning “settlement”, “village” or simply “land.” The name was adopted by settlers since the foundation of the first French Colony of Canada, and later used to name the British Colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, which preserved the name, after their amalgamation in 1841, to become the Province of Canada.  On July 1st 1867, four provinces united to form The Dominion of Canada.  Finally, on July 1, 1982, the Constitution Act enacted the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, and July 1, known until then as “Dominion Day”, was recognized in parliament as “Canada Day.”

FUN FACT:  Although back in 1867, delegates from the provinces spent little time debating before choosing Canada as the name of the newly formed Dominion, there were many other proposals, including: 1) Borealia – from the Latin borealis – “Northern”, in contrast to Australia, from australis – “Southern”, 2) Tupona – from “The United Provinces of North America”, and 3)  Ursalia – “Place of Bears”.

FUN GAME:  What would Mexico be called if the Spaniards had chosen native words for “town” or “village”?  I offer: 1) Altepec – from the Nahuatl “altepetl” – meaning community or town, from the roots atl – water and tepetl – hill, natural features that could have been desirable for a settlement, 2) Noja – from the Mayan “Noj” – a statehood, city or town, or 3) Daninia – from the Otomi word “dähnini”  – town.

24 thoughts on “O Kanata

  1. This subject is interesting I think because it kinda shows an example of what a state is for.

    People have been wronged, and so situations need to be righted. That may or may not mean compensated.
    Yet, Canadians there today, right now, have not themselves done anything to harm these people. So why should they feel any guilt?
    Emter the state.

    It’s a bit smoke and mirrors, because all the state wil do is to tax people to pay for the reparations, but rather that than spend the tax take lining their pockets.


    1. Sadly, there are always more words than actions. I think one of the big mistakes we all make is to see “them” as separate from regular Canadians; we have to mourn together and try to heal together, not look for a guilty party (I think that’s pretty clear from the location of the graves.)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. An interesting slice of history. Especially the name of Mexico. Consider this …

    Atl … Water
    Antis … Temple

    Could Atlantis be in South America or Mexico?

    Good post.


  3. I just learned these schools were in operation until 1996! Throwing money at the harm is evil in and of itself, as it was greed for land and money that led to the methodical attempt at extinguishing the Indigenous Peoples culture. Spinning the reel backward to reacculturate the Indigenous Peoples while educating the rest of the population might be one path to restorative justice. This means putting it into every classroom in a significant and meaningful way starting with preschool and continuing through high school.

    I think the same thing should be done in the USA with the African cultures and any other enslaved peoples that were brought here against their will. I know “critical race theory” is a term being thrown around but I’m not sure exactly what that is or whether it goes far enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think critical race theory believes in the melting pot model, and that differences are created artificially; I am more of the mosaic type: respecting differences, embracing multiculturalism, but seeing everyone as equals. I am a first generation immigrant, but I love Canada as my “home and native land” (from the National anthem, hehe).

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m not familiar with the details of the CRT ideology and school curriculum; however, I am aware that, although there’s research indicating that infants demonstrate a preference for caregivers of their own race, any future racial biases and bigotries generally are environmentally acquired. Adult racist sentiments are often cemented by a misguided yet strong sense of entitlement, perhaps also acquired from one’s environment. One means of proactively preventing this social/societal problem may be by allowing young children to become accustomed to other races in a harmoniously positive manner.
      At the risk of sounding overly ideological, I feel the first step towards changing irrationally biased thinking may be the beholder’s awareness of it and its origin. Plus, the early years are typically the best time to instill and even solidify positive social-interaction skills/traits into a very young brain. An always good trait/skill to acquire and maintain for life is interracial harmonization.
      Irrational racist sentiment can be handed down generation to generation. If it’s deliberate, it’s something I strongly feel amounts to a form of child abuse, to rear one’s very impressionable little children in an environment of overt bigotry — especially against other races and sub-racial groups, i.e. ethnicities. Not only does it fail to prepare children for the reality of an increasingly racial/ethically diverse and populous society, but, even worse, it makes it so much less likely those children will be emotionally content or (preferably) harmonious with their multicultural/-racial environment. Children reared into adolescents and, eventually, young adults with such bigotry can often be angry yet not fully realize at precisely what.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your knowledgeable and thoughtful response. I agree about the child abuse aspect of it. When I see the fascists congregating with their white sheets and signs and they’ve brought their kids along it makes me cringe. Thankfully many people who have been indoctrinated at an early age are able to deprogram– with effort. It’s getting better now but media images were relentless programming towards white male supremacy with all others subservient to and subjugated by them.


  4. After 3.5 decades of news consumption, I have found that a disturbingly large number of categorized people, however precious their souls, can be considered thus treated as though disposable, even to an otherwise democratic nation. When the young children of those people take notice of this, tragically, they’re vulnerable to begin perceiving themselves as beings without value. (Such psychological trauma can readily result in a debilitating drug addiction, a continuous attempt at silencing through self-medicating the pain of serious life trauma or PTSD. The pain — which unlike an open physical disability or condition, such as paralysis, a missing limb or eye — is very formidable yet invisibly confined to inside one’s head, solitarily suffered.)
    When I say this, I primarily have in mind indigenous-nation Canadians. But, tragically, such horrendous occurrences still happen on Earth, often enough going unrealized to the rest of the world; sadly, sometimes those atrocious acts are allowed to remain a buried secret. While the inhuman(e) devaluation of such people is based upon their race and/or culture, it still reminds me of an external devaluation, albeit a subconscious one, of the daily civilian lives lost in protractedly devastating war zones and heavily armed sieges. They can eventually receive meagre column inches on the back page in the First World’s daily news.
    Residential schooling (et al) was a serious attempt at annihilating native culture(s). The indigenous children’s mass graves, as sadly anticipated as the finds were (and still others are expected), must not be in vain. Rather, it must mark the start of a substantial progressive move forward for indigenous nations, especially regarding life’s fundamental necessities, such as clean air, water and food, and proper shelter.


    1. The National Truth and Reconciliation Centre is supposed to be implementing these and other strategies, but there is just not enough involvement from the general public as it should. Hopefully we all ask ourselves, what can I do? And then get informed and get involved.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a really well put-together as usual. I had great difficulty celebrating Canada Day this year. I am a proud Canadian, but not proud of some of our past heritage—and by past, I mean not that long ago. So tragic all of it! I had trouble trying to explain and comfort my little ones at school, but I reminded them that they are the generation that knows better and can do better as a result and to use their voice to speak up when things aren’t right.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s