Lori-Ann Livingston, The Circle

It’s taken me awhile to sit down and put thoughts to paper about this topic. I am so grateful to live in Canada, yet for me, being Canadian is tempered with heaviness.

I used to be unabashedly patriotic.

I wore a Canadian flag on my backpack when I travelled abroad. I knew the most obscure trivia, argued the case against our neighbor to the south, and celebrated our diversity.

I once considered getting a tattoo of the flag or the map of our nation (didn’t follow through on that one!).

My family is what a former prime minister called “old stock Canadian.”

My father’s family has been here since 1829. I’ve come to think of us now as “white settlers.” That’s where the heaviness comes in.

I have a degree in Canadian history — and it’s in the history of our nation that my love for storytelling is rooted. The stories, the carving of a nation from a vast land, the struggles of pioneers and, yes, my own family’s part in settling this land. It’s only half the story.

During this 150th anniversary of Canada’s formal claim to ancient lands, I feel less than celebratory. What exactly are we observing? Establishing a nation on a foundation of poisoned blankets, land acquired dishonestly, lies, and residential schools. Of systemic racism and cultural genocide.

So my Canada is bittersweet. Locally, I see community at every turn — welcoming, embracing, generous. I see people taking care of each other. I see a desire for justice. Despite this heaviness I carry for the sins of the past, my hope is in the now, and in the here. This is the Canada I want to nurture.