We are the framework of Canadian culture, we white people.
It is our ancestors who came here and changed the game.
They changed the landscape into clear cut grids and the plants and animals from their lands began to replace the ones that were here.
Cattle and sheep replaced buffalo and bison. Farmland replaced forests and grasslands.
They cheated, lied to and murdered the civilizations that were living here, stirring up old enemies, setting one against another.
They wiped out entire civilizations like the Beothuk and outlawed spirituality replacing ancient customs with their brave new christianity.
They created the format, the framework of this new country forcing their image of what should be, on what was.
They suddenly owned the land and all the resources on it, buying and selling lands and resources that continues on to this day.
They framed the culture that spread here in North America, gave it their language, their religion, their plants and animals and customs and laws.
They brought in ‘others’ from Asia and Africa and the poorer European nations to work on building the infrastructures of their new empire.
When European countries like Sweden, Ireland, Finland, Ukraine and Russia went industrial, their extra farm labourers were shipped over to farm the lands the railways opened and the loggers had clear cut. By the thousands they came building cities, taking over waterways and mountains, farming grasslands and clear cutting forests, digging and drilling the lands and oceans for wealth. They almost wiped out the whales and the fisheries destroyed the ocean ecosystems.
They built the framework for this new civilization in their own Patriarchal European Imperialist image.
They demanded that all living here change into their image of humanity, stealing children to raise them to be more like them.
We the descendants of these conquerors carry this in our DNA and in our privilege as being the standard everyone else is suppose to replicate.
We tell people when they come here for the promises of freedom, that they must become like ‘us’, the descendants of the conquerors, and we persecute them if they do not change their customs.
This bigotry is so deeply embedded in our collective psyche we do not see it and are very uncomfortable scratching our shiny surface to have a look at what is underneath.
There is so much work to do; in our dualistic language that denotes white as good and black as bad, in our internalized attitudes of white Christian being ‘us’ and everyone else being ‘other’; in our laws and government institutions and industries that are predominantly run and profited by white christian males.
We have this framework set.
How can this become healthy?
How can we take what has happened in our collective histories and heal?
Well, if we are the framework, we need to open space for all the nations who were hurt by our ancestors’ policies to heal and determine their place in the collective whole.
What does that look like for us white people?
It looks like not stepping in, not rescuing, not speaking up for people we assume have no voice.
Instead seek out and listen to those voices.
The framework needs to step back and give space and support for these voices to have a chance to be heard.
The framework needs to be making an opening that is safe from judgement or assumption so that original civilizations can support their own healing and education.
That is not charity, that is repayment and repatriation of a theft.
Each individual civilization needs the right to self determination.
That to me would be step one.
The framework also needs to welcome and appreciate all the Asian cultures who came and built and created business and entertainment and service.
It needs to make space for each of these cultures to flourish here, to have space to be free from persecution and accusation.
The framework needs to honour the African Canadians who came here in hopes of freedom and are still waiting to feel free, and the Caribbean Canadians who come to work here and ended up staying, adding their foods and music and culture to the diversity we say we are.
The frame needs to open space for life and individual culture to flourish in their own space within the whole of Canada.
It is not about blending, or becoming one homogenous mass.
It never was, because in so many ways we already are one and always have been.
It is about celebrating and making supportive space for our diversity.
The framework, the white class system, needs to shift from hierarchical grid-lines to circles, within circles, within circles.
Step back. Make space. Listen. Support.
We can do this.