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  • Shauna Rae

What does freedom mean in Canada?



I've been thinking a lot about freedom and what that means in different parts of Canada, to different groups of people.


I have been trying to put my finger on what I've been feeling but I can honestly say now, I think it's a sense of loss. I feel like I am mourning the loss of what freedom and Canada used to mean to me.


Please do not mistake this for support for the Freedom Convoy. I didn't support it before and I don't support it now. In fact, when supporters 'claimed' the Canadian flag back, and it became a symbol of the 'movement', I lost my own sense of pride in the flag. Whenever I see a truck in the parking lot of my rural Ontario town, I cringe and hope I don't run into the driver (figuratively, not literally).


My hubby and I have always been proud Canadians. My grandfather was in the Navy and served during World War II. Dan's grandfather served in England during the same war. One of my fondest memories was of the two of us pouring the concrete to install a flagpole at the front of the house.


Some years, we'd put one in the window too.


Not anymore.


Last summer, after children's bodies began to be uncovered at Canada's Residential School sites, I said not this year. We need to stand with our Indigenous brothers and sisters in their mourning and in their healing.


The more I've researched and the more I've talked with BIPOC in my realm, the Canada that that flag currently represents is not the Canada I want to be part of.


Maybe our country will never heal from it in my lifetime, but what I do know for sure, is that we must first identify what went wrong, who was hurt, our part in it, the generations before us and their part in it and we must mourn. We must mourn the disconnection it has caused, the divisiveness, the hatred and anger, before we can stitch back the ripped pieces of our Canadian identity.


Indigenous babies murdered, Indigenous children stolen from their families and forced to renounce their culture; Black slavery, including an underground haven for American KKK members, fleeing prosecution. Forced female sterilization, stolen land. The targeting of anyone who is not cis-gender, hetero-passing, forcing folks to hide who they really are. Code-switching to fit into 'OUR' Canada. Peacefully protesting by these folks was most certainly not what we saw in Ottawa this winter.


White settlers and our heritage, our family who came before us, it is all our responsibility. ALL OF IT.


We must all feel that shame before we heal. We must all feel the complicity, quietly and without validation. Sit it in. Feel it. Mourn what Canada could have been; what it should have been.


We Canadians are not all free, until all of us are free to present and show up as we are, as our true selves, without fear, without automatically 'checking' one's identity in primarily white spaces. Without fear for our lives.


Anyone different has paid a price, especially in rural Canada.


That's not freedom.


I say this as a white woman of privilege who has had the comfort of my skin colour and the ability to 'check-out' of uncomfortable situations; situations that I could have stepped into and used that privilege to help others.


Living in a rural Ontario community, there's so much work to be done.


I'm not sure how and what needs to be done, but I know it starts with me, and you, and our own healing.


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