We should face up to history and make sure Canada Day is for all: Editorial (Toronto Star – July 1, 2015)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Two years before Canada’s marks a century and a half as a united nation, we need a deep reflection on the place of the country’s First Nations.

Canada Day – even one that falls awkwardly in the middle of the working week – is a great time for waving flags. And for very good reason. We have so much to celebrate: we’re among the freest, healthiest and wealthiest people in the world.

We also have a rising generation of young people who will ensure that Canada’s best days lie ahead. On the opposite page, Carol Goar introduces us to three of the most impressive.

Yet Canada’s 148th birthday should also be a time for reflection on how we can do better. As Ken Dryden writes on our opinion page, Canada Day should be not just a commemoration of what we are, but “an expression of what we can be.”

And this year, two years before we mark a century and a half as a united nation, that should mean first and foremost a deep reflection on the place of the country’s First Nations. In the wake of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it’s finally time to face up to that broken relationship.

Such a reflection doesn’t mean repudiating our history. Mature nations are able to take pride in their accomplishments while refusing to shy away from their flaws.

In this we can learn from the Americans. They revere their founding fathers even while acknowledging that many were slave owners, and worse. They have no trouble arguing deeply about their history – and then celebrating the ideals at the root of their republic.

Canadians have a harder time holding these seemingly contradictory thoughts in their heads. In recent months, for example, historians have argued that Sir John A. Macdonald himself orchestrated an overtly racist policy towards native people, a legacy we’re still living with.

Others have spoken of “cultural genocide.” Their claims have been met with pained cries: how can we be proud of our country, many ask, when the men who built it are revealed as being so deeply flawed?

For the rest of this editorial, click here: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2015/06/30/we-should-face-up-to-history-and-make-sure-canada-day-is-for-all-editorial.html