Does celebrating Canada Day OFFEND Indigenous people?
Now that Canada celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day, you might be wondering… does celebrating Canada Day OFFEND Indigenous People?
This is a big question. So, I’ve got a six part answer for you.
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To answer this question, we need to talk about some of the facts about Canada Day, as well as WHY celebrating it might or might not be offensive – and what to do about it.
With Canada Day coming up soon, we want to share with you how best to celebrate without offending Indigenous people.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.
#1 What Is Canada Day?
Canada day is the national day of Canada – kind of similar to The 4th of July or Independence Day in the United States.
It celebrates the anniversary of the Canadian Confederation in 1867 – where three colonies merged to form a single dominion called Canada. It was originally called Dominion Day, but was renamed in 1982 when Canada became a completely sovereign nation.
So, to put it simply – it’s treated like Independence Day in Canada.
Not sure if you should celebrate Canada Day or Indigenous Peoples Day? Check out this article right here.
#2 What Does It Mean To Celebrate Canada Day?
Canada Day is a federal holiday and celebrations involve just what it sounds like – celebrating Canada.
Most communities will host celebrations like outdoor public events, carnivals, parades, festivals, fireworks, concerts, and other activities.
Canada Day is also sometimes a day to celebrate citizenship or even hold citizenship ceremonies. So, for new immigrants to Canada, Canada Day might be seen as a way to commemorate their arrival in their new country.
However, those who have spent generations in Canada might have a different feeling.
As a federal holiday established by colonizers, it inherently overlooks the Indigenous people of Canada and the difficult history that allowed Canada to become an independent country in the first place.
#3 Why Would Celebrating Canada Day Offend Indigenous People?
The country of Canada was formed on stolen land. It was taken from the Indigenous people who originally occupied it by colonizers and turned into first a British ruled nation, and then an independent nation.
So, you can see why a day that celebrates that legacy might be offensive to Indigenous people – we created a day that celebrates that traumatic history.
Today, a lot of that trauma is still around. Many people think Canada Day should be a day of reconciliation instead of celebration.
So, while Canada Day might seem like a simple independence day – it also celebrates a legacy that, for Indigenous people, was dark, violent, and traumatic.
#4 Which Indigenous People Might Be Offended By Celebrating Canada Day?
Everyone is different.
For some Indigenous communities, the trauma of Canadian history is deeply rooted. In these cases, they might be offended by celebrating Canada Day and there’s nothing you can do to change their minds.
And, of course, there are some people who are simply offended by everything.
You might meet other Indigenous people who are activists, advocates for Indigenous communities, and passionate allies, but even they aren’t offended – for these people, Canada Day is just a day.
And you might meet people – Indigenous or not – who don’t really think about the meaning behind the day and just use it as a way to have fun and celebrate.
There’s no right or wrong answer. And there’s also no way to know for sure who might or might not be offended.
Who gets offended depends specifically on their background, their feelings, and most likely their history in Canada.
#5 Why Do Some Indigenous People Celebrate Canada Day?
So, if Canada Day has such a complicated history – why do some Indigenous people celebrate Canada Day?
Again, everyone is different.
Most Indigenous people have at least some settler background in them. It’s OK to celebrate their non-Indigenous side, too!
And, again, some Indigenous people simply don’t think about the meaning behind the day and want to have a day of fun. That’s OK, too!
There is no right choice – to celebrate or not to celebrate. It just depends on the person!
Wondering about history of Canada and why it's copmplicated? Check out this artilce.
#6 How Can You Honor Indigenous People On Canada Day?
Since it can be hard to tell who might be offended by celebrating Canada Day or not, it’s better to worry about what YOU can do to both celebrate Canada Day AND use it as a way to honor Indigenous people.
So, how do you do that?
First of all, acknowledge the TRUE history of Canada. If you’re not sure what that means, you can watch THIS VIDEO to find out. By acknowledging this truth, you are doing your part to dismiss some of the principles of colonialism that the country was founded on.
Additionally, if you are going to celebrate Canada Day, be open to multi-cultural celebrations! Canada is a nation built on immigration, so it’s your job to acknowledge that. Be sure to include Indigenous people in your celebrations OR use the day as a way to learn more about them and engage with Indigenous culture.
Finally, one simple way to make your statement is to wear an orange shirt instead of a red and white one.
On Canada Day, many people wear the national colors: red and white. Instead, you can wear an Orange Shirt to show your support for Indigenous communities. An orange shirt has become a symbol of Truth & Reconciliation.
If you want to know more about the meaning behind orange shirts, check out this article.
While everyone might have a different opinion about CANADA DAY, it’s important to understand WHY some Indigenous people might be offended by celebrating this day.
The best thing you can do is continue to learn and build your knowledge about Indigenous people and culture – AND the true history of the country of Canada.
Now, you’ll know exactly how to celebrate Canada Day in a way that ALSO celebrates Indigenous people.
If you want to learn more about indigenous people, cultures, practices, and beliefs, visit our website, Tribal Trade Co., for tons of resources at your fingertips.