What Canada 150 means to Indigenous leaders and artists

June 16, 2017 at 16:00 , by admin

Grand chief Stewart Phillip, author Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm and national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples Robert Bertrand lend their voices to what Canada 150 means. PHOTO CREDITS: UBCIC, Portage & Main Press, Abo-Peoples.org

The federal government has earmarked over $500 million for Canada 150 to commemorate this year’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The hefty price tag will cover festivals, concerts and major Canada Day celebrations in 19 cities, as well as dozens of so-called “signature initiatives,” including the Red Couch Tour inviting Canadians to express what the country means to them and a 1,600-kilometre canoe race to re-enact another canoe race from the 1967 centennial year.

But there’s been much debate among the country’s Indigenous communities whether to participate in the birthday bash that some, like poet and publisher Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, say promotes a narrative of Canadian history that is insulting and hurtful.

For many Aboriginal people, the anniversary represents the ongoing legacy of colonialism and the racist policies of residential schools that spanned a century, as well as the ongoing abrogation and violation of Indigenous land rights and human rights.

Indigenous leaders like Stewart Phillip say the vast majority of Aboriginal people won’t be celebrating Canada 150 because “our communities are still deeply mired in crushing poverty.”

Click here to read the Q&A originally published by Yahoo Canada.

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