Cognitive dissonance occurs when facts are discordant in significance.
Fact: Canada, a capitalist democracy, enjoys material affluence and freedoms derived in large measure from our origin as a colonial-settler state; the wealthy “West” describes European, Pacific-island, and American lands. Dissonance: the latter are vast territories where Indigenous people aren’t very rich or free; “Celebrating Canada is celebrating genocide!” according to posters seen several places in Nelson on July 1.
Fact: Canada is a much-desired home for millions in Asia, Africa, Latin America – people who desperately want to immigrate; Canada has taken, or is set to accept, annually, over one per cent of its population – around 400,000 immigrants. Dissonance: Indigenous people, enraged at colonial history and purported genocides, are not addressing aggrieved feelings and calls for justice toward new immigrants, only at “old settlers.”
I’m a white settler, with European pedigree. Am I alone noticing the strangeness of how Canada holds these conversations that ignore one another? Immigrants celebrate the liberty and opportunity Canada offers; natives emphatically don’t.
Natives are at present in a position of political strength. Why? Because settlers who’ve been here generations are willing to accept a (liberal) load of responsibility — for historical wrongs perpetrated here.
Which views should propagate? Canada: land of promise, or, of genocide? Both?
In conclusion, with Remembrance Day on the horizon, I want to advocate for Canada to project an image of justice abroad by ethical conduct beyond our borders. Let this be our foreign-policy formula: “Canada never invades. We defend our borders, never sending forces to kill beyond said borders.” No more Afghan-esque NATO missions. Such policy would be most fitting for a nation-state like Canada.
Here our peoples will coexist in peace, within borders on land some call “stolen” — and others call “a blessed sanctuary.”