Canada's Origin Story

Canada's origin story

As we look to 2017, we know that much attention will be focused on the 150th anniversary of Canada's founding as a nation. However, there are some who argue that the story is incomplete at best for its omission of the role of Indigenous people. In her article, Kathleen Mahoney of the University of Calgary writes that it is time to recognize Indigenous people as equal founders of our country.

As Mahoney notes, our origin story focuses on the Fathers of Confederation and the "birth" of the nation on July 1, 1867. The fact is that there were already many "nations" in Canada in 1867. Indeed, those nations had been in North America long before 1867. Not only had Indigenous nations been here long before 1867, but they served as important allies to European newcomers as they shared their knowledge.

I would agree with Mahoney in that Indigenous people have not received recognition for their contribution to nation-building. Rather, Canada's origin story that will be celebrated across the country in 2017 supports the view of Indigenous people as marginalized and dispossessed. Mahoney sees the 150th anniversary celebrations as an opportunity to set the record straight. How to best do this? According to Mahoney, parliamentarians should pass a statute formally recognizing Indigenous peoples as equal founders of Canada. Once again, I would agree with her.