Happy birthday, Canada, you tired old fart!
Tomorrow television anchors, bored mayors and jingoistic revellers from coast-to-coast will enrobe themselves in scarlet and bathe in maple syrup like a deleted scene from Riverdale
. The country’s 150th celebration will be a party unlike any other—a national celebration befitting of Canadian heroes like Bono
and the cast of X-Men: Dark Phoenix
The festive Canada 150 veneer—and its white-washing of Canada’s tremendous history of violating any people who weren’t European
, straight and male
—has astoundingly become even thinner this week. In a “microcosm of colonialism
,” Indigenous protesters were arrested Wednesday night while trying to set up a tipi on Parliament Hill. It was an attempt to highlight the country’s history of assimilation
ahead of a cloying fête
that will vanilla glaze over those historical atrocities.
With that in mind—and under the belief that the first step in reconciliation is hearing truth
—The Coast presents an incomplete timeline documenting just some of the events in this land’s past. It’s a list that stretches back thousands of years before confederation,
and is unlikely to inspire true patriot love. Too bad. This is Canada.
The earliest carbon-dated Mi’kmaw artefacts.
Indigenous settlements are present in what will become Nova Scotia.
The Three Fires Confederacy is formed by the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi nations.
The Iroquois Confederacy is formed.
The Wabanaki Confederacy is formed.
Olivier Le Jeune, a seven-year-old slave, becomes the first Black person to live in “Canada.”
The first treaty is signed by European settlers and the Mi’kmaq.
Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave in Montreal, is tortured and hanged after being accused of setting a fire that spread throughout the city.
The English settlement of Halifax is founded, in opposition to previous treaties and occupations. Governor Edward Cornwallis issues a proclamation for Mi’kmaw scalps.
The expulsion of the Acadians.
Slaves advertised for sale in Halifax.
3,000 Black Loyalists flee America for Nova Scotia. Over 1,000 soon leave and emigrate to Sierra Leone.
The first race riot in Canada occurs when white residents of Shelburne attack and beat Black Loyalist settlers and burn down homes in the nearby Birchtown. None of the rioters face
Mary Postell is re-enslaved by her former owner, Jesse Gray and sold for 100 bushels of potatoes. Gray also attempts to sell her children into slavery. Postell tries to take Gray to court, but Nova Scotia magistrates acquit him.
The Mohawk Institute, Canada’s first residential school, opens and attempts to assimilate Indigenous children.
The African Chapel, later renamed the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church, is established.
The Slavery Abolition Act outlaws slavery in British colonies.
The Dominion of Canada is formed
Métis, led by Louis Riel, fight against the newly formed government in the Red River Rebellion. Canada officially bans abortion.
The Canadian Pacific Railway is completed. Hundreds of Chinese immigrants die during the construction.
The Coloured Hockey League is founded in Nova Scotia, 23 years before the NHL.
Nova Scotian women are granted the right to vote in provincial elections. A year later, Canadian women are given the federal vote.
Gabriel Sylliboy becomes the first Mi’kmaq elected as Grand Chief. The League of Indians of Canada is founded by F. O. Loft to address the country’s failure to recognize
land rights. The Department of Indian Affairs attempts to revoke his status in response.
The Nova Scotia Home for Colored
Children opens, in part because white orphanages wouldn’t accept Black children.
The Chinese Exclusion Act bans all Chinese immigrants from Canada for 24 years before it’s finally repealed.
Canadian members of the KKK are estimated to number in the tens of thousands.
The first children arrive at the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School.
J. Massey Rhind’s statue of Edward Cornwallis is erected in downtown Halifax.
The Christie Pits riot breaks out between Jewish Torontonians and Nazi supporters.
Women in Quebec are granted the right to vote.
The Canadian government detains
some 20,000 Japanese Canadians in internment camps and sells off their homes and businesses to pay for the costs.
Viola Desmond refuses to leave a whites-only area of a New Glasgow theatre and is subsequently arrested.
First Nations individuals are granted the right to vote in federal elections without having to give up treaty rights or Indian Status. An estimated 20,000 Indigenous children are stolen from their families and adopted out to white families during the “Sixties Scoop.”
Wenjack, a 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy, dies from starvation and exposure as he flees Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School.
The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is established. The Shubenacadie residential school closes after having indoctrinated over 1,000 children.
Africville is demolished in the middle of the night, its former residents having been forcibly relocated in the months prior. Bill C-150 decriminalizes
abortion, contraception and homosexuality. The federal government’s White Paper proposes to abolish the Indian Act and transfer all responsibility for Indigenous peoples to the provinces.
The Calder case becomes the Supreme Court of Canada’s first Indigenous land claims decision and spurs the federal government to adopt a land claims policy.
Toronto police raid four gay bathhouses and arrest over 300 men during Operation Soap. Mass protests held in response eventually evolve into Toronto’s Pride festival.
The Constitution Act recognizes
“existing Aboriginal and treaty rights.” Legal abortion access is discontinued in PEI.
Donald Marshall Jr. is acquitted after serving 11 years after a wrongful murder conviction. Nova Scotia’s last racially segregated school closes.
Fourteen female engineering students are murdered at the University of Montreal.
The Oka Crisis sees thousands of military troops confronting Indigenous activists who are protesting the expansion of a golf course on Mohawk land.
The last federally operated residential school closes.
All education on reserves is handed off from Nova Scotia to the Mi’kmaq.
Kirk Johnson wins a racial profiling case against Halifax police, who had stopped him 28 times over a five-year period.
Same-sex marriage is legalized
throughout Canada. The RCMP launch project
E-PANA, focusing on the unsolved murders and disappearances of young women along the Highway of Tears.
Canada’s $2-billion settlement with residential school survivors comes into effect. The federal government refuses to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Stephen Harper publicly apologizes
for the residential school system and the forced assimilation of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
Black Nova Scotian Shayne Howe awakens to find a burning cross with a noose on it placed outside his home.
Halifax officially apologizes
for the destruction of Africville. Viola Desmond is granted a posthumous pardon. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission officially launches, two years after it was first created.
Halifax Regional School Board votes to change the name of Cornwallis Junior High to Halifax Central Junior High.
Theresa Spence begins a hunger strike in support of Indigenous rights. The grassroots Idle No More movement is founded.
The Elsipogtog First Nation sets up a blockade against SWN Resources’ fracking exploration.
Premier Stephen McNeil apologizes
to former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored
Children who suffered decades of physical and sexual abuse.
The Liberals promise to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016.
The Canadian government launches a national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls. The Supreme Court rules that the legal definition of “Indian” includes Métis and non-status Indigenous peoples.
Six people are killed and 19 injured in the Quebec City mosque shooting.
Bill C-16 grants federal protection to transgender individuals. Prince Edward Island becomes the last province to provide local, legal access to abortion services.