by Andrea Nemtin, CEO and President
At Inspirit Foundation, we envision a more inclusive and pluralist Canada where our differences are valued and engaged, and everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive both socially and economically. For us, the anniversary of Confederation is a moment to pause and reflect. It’s an opportunity to look critically at the last 150 years – to honestly discuss our challenges and look hopefully into the future.
We must broaden our understanding of the history of these lands to include stories so often missing from popular celebrations. In general, the Federal response to the Sesquicentennial has been to encourage people in Canada to participate in community events, explore national sites, and enjoy celebrations intended to build a sense of pride and attachment to Canada. At these times, the promoted story of Canada is simple and celebratory.
This is not the Canada experienced by many of our stakeholders. The popular narrative around 150 oversimplifies Canada’s origin story and is an erasure of Indigenous history, knowledge, and experiences. While many know the Canadian story of opportunity and refuge, many people on these lands continue to experience intergenerational trauma, discrimination, and marginalization. Indigenous peoples in particular, but also racialized and/or visibly religious people, continue to be marginalized by systemic inequities.
We are grateful to the many organizations and initiatives using this anniversary to highlight Indigenous contributions to Canada and engage people in meaningful conversation to take action on reconciliation, including the 4Rs Youth Movement, Canada 150+, Reconciliation Canada and many others.
As we look at the next 150 years, we are particularly inspired by young people with lived experience and deep understanding of racism and inequitable systems, who are committed to bringing communities together to work toward solutions. Across the country, from all backgrounds and beliefs, these advocates, artists, educators, city builders and policy makers are working to create a shared future where we can all thrive.
Listening to the reality of those with lived experiences plays a paramount role in allowing us to understand how to create the circumstances required for an equitable Canada. It is essential for us to deepen relationships and address injustices. And so we asked four change leaders, what they felt was missing from the conversation around Canada150, and what solutions they would propose for a more equitable and inclusive Canada.
Over the next four weeks we will be sharing their perspectives and ideas. Take a few minutes to listen to the inspirational voices of these change leaders and to join them in creating a more inclusive and equitable Canada, where everyone can access opportunities, resources, and possibilities. As a country we are not living up to our aspirations … but we could be.
The first video in our series features Justin Wiebe, a Métis city builder from Saskatoon living in Toronto: