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Shane Henry used to celebrate Canada Day until he learned what the day meant to his Indigenous community. (Victoria Dinh/CBC) For Shane Henry, it used to be about donning the red and white to celebrate Canada on July 1, but this year — on Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation — he’s not feeling so patriotic.

"Putting a bunch of flags on my skin and jumping in praise saying, ‘Oh, look at our great country and look at all that we’ve accomplished’ — that part of it isn’t so comfortable with me anymore," explained the University of Saskatchewan PhD student and researcher with the Saskatoon Tribal Council.

The reformed "Canada Day nut" said it wasn’t until he began working with different government organizations and non-profit groups that he realized what Canada Day really meant for his Indigenous community.

Henry, who has a Métis, Ukrainian and Cree background, said he became jaded after realizing the divisive and patronizing way the federal government has dealt with First Nations issues.

"When the promises don’t pan out, you’re just going to get people who are more and more cynical."

He said that it’s important for those who don’t understand Indigenous perspectives to start challenging the narrative behind Canada’s Confederation.

"Forge relationships with people that are different than yourself. Have uncomfortable conversations," Henry advised, adding that he has lost many friends over the years trying to spark similar discussions.

"Having conversations that speak to race, that speak to gender, that speak to issues of oppression and contemporary society are very challenging."Henry said this year he’ll be spending July 1 in the company of loved ones."I want to do something with my family to show that, you know, after 150 years of forced segregation, assimilation, cultural genocide, that we’re still alive and kicking … We still struggle but we’re proud of who we […]

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