Placing problems into historical context

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“Be proud of this country? For what, over 400 years of genocide?” wrote a Dalhousie University student in a social media post critical of Canada Day 150 celebrations.

She subsequently took down her online comments but not before controversy ensued.

By the student’s black and white measure, very few nations around the world could apparently claim an ounce of pride.

Human history has an unmistakable tapestry of great empires born of expansion and almost without exception bloody conquest.

Remembering where we’ve erred along the way is undeniably important. Learning from past mistakes is the only way to build a better future for everyone.

Lessons such as those illustrated so painfully for us all to see with sobering clarity in the Truth and Reconciliation Report cannot be allowed to be only recognized in some political speech followed up by no meaningful policy change.

This all being said, we should not overlook the positive progress made over the centuries and millennia of human civilization, which includes Canada’s comparatively brief chapter in a long and ongoing story.

Not to make light of a heavy situation, but a rather poignant point was raised in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. The following bit is admittedly satirical parody that conveniently overlooks the atrocities committed by the Roman Empire, which despite its dictatorial tendencies was undeniably technologically and scientifically ages ahead of its time.

“All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

Of course as long as any Canadian — on or off of a reserve — does not have equal access to all of the former, which sadly remains the case to this very day, room for improvement unquestionably remains.

Yet that does not mean we should ignore the many reasons to be grateful to live in a country like Canada, which while having its flaws nevertheless remains a beacon of shining light for people all over the world who are looking for a better, freer life.

Refugees as well as climate and economic migrants do not tend to flee seeking greener pastures in places like China, Russia, nor pretty well anywhere in Africa or the Middle East.

In fact, said peoples are often actually attempting to escape from these often oppressive and regressive places in the hopes of reaching the West — whether for example France, the U.K., Australia, the U.S or of course Canada as well.

So despite our shortcomings, we must be doing something right.

Is that not worth celebrating?

Simon Ducatel is the editor of the Sundre Round Up.

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Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel is the editor of the Sundre Round Up and a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.