Wednesday, April 3, 2013

True Brit

Apparently there is no such thing, or so I've heard, as a true Brit. Of course the Brits are all British now, and we're all Irish of course. But I remember one time I was hanging out with some friends and a British friend had another British friend visiting and they were talking about British history and how this tribe had conquered this tribe and how nobody could really say that they were a true Britain at this point, presumably because they've been conquering and marrying each other for so long... And I remember noticing at one point that they actually celebrated the Norman conquest with a parade. Can you imagine? I though huh, that's interesting, especially in that we North Americans of European descent feel pretty guilty about being here at all. How is it that the Normans managed to get themselves a parade?

Sometimes I've wondered about the reserve system in Canada, I know there are historical reasons, treaties, why things are set up the way they are, but I just wonder, this idea of separating peoples, as opposed to everyone just intermarrying and having a big party, if that would have been a better idea. The other night I was flipping stations and I don't usually listen to aboriginal programming, but I stumbled on an interview where an aboriginal gentleman (I don't even know who he was) was suggesting that aboriginal people should assimilate. Well I wouldn't have said it, lol, but I have thought it, if you'll excuse my saying, but maybe we'd have fewer problems if we just scrapped a system that separates people from each other. Throw out the aboriginal identification cards too, that's another bad idea. I'm no authority on any of this, just thinking out loud really, and inviting comments from potentially more informed sources. I know some people would say this is all aboriginal people have left, and I'm sensitive to that too.

But interestingly, I am a bit Acadian on my mother's side. Apparently my great-grandmother was from Cheticamp, Nova Scotia, and was a direct descendant of the Acadians. The Acadians were part aboriginal as well as French Canadian, the early French settlers having intermarried with the aboriginal people from the region. Consequently, they saw themselves as their own people, having lived in the area for generations, though torn between domestic European rivalries. In 1755 the British began to expel a good percentage of Acadians from Nova Scotia (where I'm originally from), over concerns of loyalty to the British Crown in war time. I was just thinking that the Acadians may be an example in Canadian history where this sort of integration has worked. Well, the British may not have thought so, haha, but the Acadians didn't think of themselves as French, having stronger ties to the New World through the local aboriginal people. Of course the British expelled them anyway, but regardless the Acadians continued to see themselves as having their own culture and identity, distinct from mid-18th century European entanglements. Hmmm. It's tragic now to think of current divisions in our own culture, that seem to be so entrenched, issues regarding reserves and conditions on reserves that seem to be so difficult to resolve. Forgive me if this seems simplistic or idealistic. I just thought it was interesting, to hear an aboriginal person suggest something that I would probably be afraid to suggest myself but hey, he and I agree that we may all be on our way to becoming Chinese. How about that? How's your Mandarin?

thanks for listening,

M.A. Harvey

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