This holiday season, besieged by so much hurt and wrongness in the world, you might catch yourself wondering: Why must there be so much suffering? Why must we be made complicit in the wars, poverty, and simple cruelty perpetrated by our governments? Why can't we get along with our own families? Why can't we all be more peaceful, gentle, benevolent? Why can't we be more like the Canadians, that gentle simple folk infamous for their politeness, for being so nice, who would sooner apologize for nothing in particular than look you in the eye. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could follow their kind example? Join me, friend, on this Walk of Kindness brought to you by Londonderry Mall: we will take a winter wonderland stroll through the soul of the humble Canadian and your holidays will be filled with the friendly benevolence of the frozen north.
Like any self respecting British colony, Canada is haunted by a history of ruthless genocide and exploitation of its indigenous peoples, which not only catalyzed the country's foundation in the distant past but continues to hound Canada's first people into the present. The Residential Schools system aimed to solve the "indian problem" by stealing children from their homes and placing them into mandatory boarding school, in which they would be "civilized." Speaking their own tongue and practicing their own religion was forbidden, and children would not be free to visit their own families again until they reached the age of majority, if they could even remember how to find them. In addition to the explicit goals of eradicating an entire culture and sundering multiple generations from the support of their families, the schools were rampant with horrific physical and sexual abuse. The last residential school closed in 1996. But it's not all gloom and doom! The kindhearted Canadians, after taking many years to studiously examine the problem with the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, has determined that Canada is very, very sorry. Our bad! Have a little money! That'll fix it right up.
Today the status of indigenous peoples in Canada has certainly improved, apart of course from the ongoing crisis in which reserves have a suicide rate 6 to 7 times higher than the rest of the country and the ongoing mystery of all those missing indigenous women whose disappearances haven't been investigated. It's mysterious! Anyways, those who have signed treaties to integrate into our great society are granted the opportunity for productive employment from the oil pipeline projects and tar sands extraction tailing ponds that are going through their land whether they like it or not.
And how could they not like these job-creating megaprojects? According to the most recent Statistics Canada figures from 2009, only 57% of work capable indigenous people are employed. Clearly these jobs destroying their own land and poisoning their own water are an offer they can't refuse! More recent and up to date stats are not forthcoming as Statistics Canada has had its capacity to gather information dramatically reduced in order to cut costs and save the Canadian taxpayer money. Think of it as a perennial Christmas gift from the Canadian government: a tighter budget, and no more gloomy information!
Unfortunately some communities, such as the Lubicon Cree, have for some strange reason refused to sign treaties and join this great land of ours. This has clearly cost them dearly, according to the United Nations Human Rights Committee "the basic health and resistance to infection of community members has deteriorated dramatically. The lack of running water and sanitary facilities in the community, needed to replace the traditional systems of water and sanitary management... is leading to the development of diseases associated with poverty and poor sanitary and health conditions." But we can hardly blame the timid, polite Canadian for not providing basic humanitarian needs to a people who refuse to be called Canadian, now can we? They haven't asked! Ok they have asked, but they haven't asked properly by signing away their people's independence, and that's just rude! Don't they know that conditions on most treaty reserves are marginally better some of the time?
It's hard to imagine why these communities would not want to join Canadian society, especially when we're always ready to devote so much special attention just to them. For example, major prairie cities such as Saskatoon had public transportation initiatives known as "Starlight Tours," in which police officers would pick up vagrants they found alone on the city streets during the harsh winters, and drop them off well outside the city limits to take a lovely dead of night stroll across the icy prairie wastelands. The fact that all these involuntary participants froze to death, stranded on the empty range roads desperate for shelter, can hardly be held against these fine officers of the law. I'm sure they had the best of intentions!
So this season, when all the bad news, worldly disorder, and holiday stresses crowd in on you, remember that there's a better way. A polite, kind way. We don't need to be like the Americans starting all those disastrous endless wars, we join in on most of them but that's just because we're always eager to help out a friend in need. We don't need to be like the Australians with their ugly eyesore internment camps: these days we use the more civilized hands-off method of crushing bleak despair that drives people to voluntarily take their own lives. We're all about the volunteer spirit, here in Canada! We don't need to be like the British with their inbred aristocratic dynasties of dusty old vampires: our corrupt political scions are handsome, hip, and fun.
I had all the characteristics of a human being—flesh, blood, skin, hair—but my depersonalization was so intense, had gone so deep, that my normal ability to feel compassion had been eradicated, the victim of a slow, purposeful erasure. I was simply imitating reality, a rough resemblance of a human being, with only a dim corner of my mind functioning.
Thanks for coming along with me on the Walk of Kindness brought to you by the generous ad budget of Londonderry Mall. I hope a little of that good ole Canadian spirit has found its way into your heart, and if your heart experiences any complications I'm sorry in advance. Happy Holidays, from your friend in Canada.