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Jacqueline Fraser, lead co-ordinator of Northeast Community Conversations, holds a couple of the blankets used in a recent KAIROS Blanket Exercise, an interactive workshop about the history of peoples in Canada. (CHRIS MONTANINILONDONERPOSTMEDIA NETWORK)

I feel uncomfortable celebrating Canada 150.

It’s a feeling I’ve been wrestling with for the past few months but mostly kept to myself until last week.

I think it began during an interview with London poet Tom Cull in April. Cull showed me a submission he made to a collection of quick stories about what it means to be a Canadian in Ontario.

He wrote about his childhood in Huron County and confessed that his younger self was unaware of the true meaning behind the names of places like Lake Huron and East Wawanosh public school. Afterwards he sent me an email to clarify why he thought this was significant.

“As a nation, we must confront the ongoing violence of our colonial history,” he said. “To me (Canada) 150 is an opportunity to learn histories that have been omitted, forgotten, and erased by the grand narrative of colonialism. This education is a crucial first step because without it, we can’t really begin to understand what meaningful reconciliation looks like.”

About a month later I was snapping photos at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology on Attawandaron Road and took an opportunity to speak with Neil Ferris, the Lawson chair of Canadian archaeology. He spoke about the 500-year-old history of the museum’s Lawson Site, formerly an indigenous village with about 2,000 inhabitants.

“Its heritage continues to be a part of the people who live in this part of town but also everyone who lives here in London,” Ferris said. “We’re celebrating 150 years of Canadian heritage in a place that has 13,000-plus years (of human heritage).”In their own ways, Cull and […]

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