On The Residential “Schools”, Patriotism & Nationalism…

Last night, the Habs secured their spot in the Stanley cup finals. The last time this happened, I was 2. While they were securing that spot, I had the great privilege of having dinner & celebrating the last 5 years of someone I hold close to my heart who just graduated. While the Habs were winning and I was filling up with pride in this teenager making it through the emotional roller coaster that is high school, our country was unearthing the body of 751 more children whose lives were taken at a residential “school”.

Patriotism & Nationalism

A Patriot is someone who plays football! No wait… A patriot is someone who loves and shows devotion/support to their country. You can be a patriot and you can be patriotic. I don’t know that I would call myself a patriot but, I was patriotic last night. I was proud to be an un-athletic, Canadian, child of immigrant refugees when MY team – a team I have never played for and have watched play approximately 30 times in my life – won a hockey game. I was proud to be part of the same country and city. I love the feeling that even though half of us are busting our asses sports-ing and half of us are getting smashed and stuffing our faces with wings and nachos, we are all on “the same team”. I feel proud and patriotic being Canadian/Montr√©alaise when the Habs win or lose! A nationalist is someone who loves and shows devotion/support to their country oftentimes to the exclusion/detriment of others. When the Habs play the Leafs, I am nationalistic. I hate the Leafs because they are NOT the Habs. We’re part of the same country, but the Leafs are ‘Them’ and the Habs are ‘Us’ and the game is Us vs. Them. When I see someone in a Leafs jersey, there is an automatic response in my brain that reminds me that being for that team is being against ours. Nationalistic. Patriotic. All at once.

Living in Tension

Living in tension has been the theme of my 20s and will indeed be the theme of my existence. How do I reconcile the love I have for my parents and the ways in which they deeply hurt me throughout my life? How can I be part of a church family while recognizing the unspeakable injustices that the Church historically (and sometimes, still) perpetuated? How can I be profoundly grateful that I was born in the 90s in Canada, while recognizing the devastating human cost that made Canada what it is today? If you know me, you know that my go to question is “What was the best and worst part of your week?” This comes from a verse in Romans that says “Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn.” I know that the beauty and pain of life is caught up in the fact that highs and lows are part of the deal and we must value both aspects. Our ability to live through those things in community is imperative to our survival. There is a time to respect your parents and a time to set boundaries. There is space to stand with the Church and space to rebuke it when it isn’t embodying the teachings of Christ. Recognizing & mourning history is not “un-patriotic” and nationalism is… for another blog. There is a time to celebrate and be grateful for the country you were born into and a time to address its past and present failings.

Residential “Schools”

I am embarrassed to admit that I am only now learning in any way that matters about the Indigenous community. I went to prom with someone whose family is First Nations. I served in church and MCd a friend’s wedding whose family is First Nations but I never bothered learning anything about their backgrounds. Every time a new number comes out of the lives lost in the “schools”, my heart breaks into as many pieces – the count as I write this is upwards of 1000. Every Canadian heart should be in upwards of 1000 pieces right now. If you’re in Montreal, you should be happy that you were in Quebec on St-Jean Baptiste, excited that our Habs home team is going to the Stanley Cup finals and devastated that our country was built on the bones of children and worse. All at once. The story of the children at these “schools” are not stories at all because they were never told. They never even got the chance to unfold. And what little lives they led, were buried in unmarked graves. That kind of genocide is as Canadian as a Habs win. All at once. Funerals that never happened. Generations that were ended. Families that were shattered. Children lost to history. That is as much a part of our history as the foundation of Quebec. All at once.


I know that writing out some of the things I am processing doesn’t do much. A hashtag doesn’t do much; performative justice and whatnot. But, hashtags often build awareness and this devastating part our history is coming to light largely through social media (I am grateful for social media). So here are some things we can do:

  1. Let go of nationalism/patriotism or at least change how you express it. It is not betraying our country by recognizing and processing the atrocities that were committed to make it what it is today. We are, in fact, trying to include ALL people who live in what is now known as Canada. We do that by acknowledging their experiences here and doing our research. Listening, kindness and inclusivity can also be Canadian (if we let them be).
  2. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn. In light of the Residential “School” news, this Canada Day is not like the others. Don’t celebrate/rejoice. Instead, observe/mourn. On Canada Day, you can participate in the “Every Child Matters” campaign and wear black or orange. You can also donate to the Indian Residential School Survivor Society. I know people will criticize this as performative justice, but solidarity matters. It mattered with #MeToo. It mattered with #BlackLivesMatter. And it matters now! Donate here: https://www.irsss.ca/
  3. Encourage the boards in the spaces you’re in (places of worship, work, schools, etc) to have land acknowledgements. These seemed frivolous to me however, they are a simple way of recognizing and honouring nations that our history has actively suppressed.
  4. Live in tension. I promise, the tension is the only way anything worth a damn can take place. It sucks. It’s amazing. It breaks your heart into upwards of 1000 pieces & changes you. It’s a maze & a yellow brick road. It’s a dessert & an oasis. Mostly, it is the only path we have. So walk it & actively bring different types of people along because they know some of the parts better than you do. Let them lead when they have to.
  5. Finally….
    Act justly.
    Love mercy.
    Walk humbly.
    All at once. Micah 6:8

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