Canada Day Parade in Montreal – If you missed it!
Canada Day Parade – Compared to our neighbour and most of the countries in the New World, Canada at 150 is still a young country, which means that the celebrations might still have a kind of fresh flavour: lots of partying and also some contradictory feelings, perhaps the pains of growing up.
In Montreal, for instance, the celebration of Canada Day, has been seen as somehow in competition with Saint Jean, the Quebec holiday. Even some English media, displaying some dosage of masochism, seem to rejoice in making that type of comparison. A kind of approach that results in putting down the effort of those who with great dedication, manage to organize events such as the Canada Day Parade, which indeed should be hailed as a successful activity which is mainly the result of volunteer work.
This year, being the 150th anniversary of the Confederation, the July 1 celebration was special, and in general, it had in our city the resonance that it was supposed to have. Canadians after all, are rather restrained in showing off their own pride. Therefore the occasion was not marked in any extreme or exaggerated way as it would have probably been south of the border. Some would say that is because Canadians are not patriotic or nationalist enough. I would rather say that this is because even though most Canadians—both, those born here as well as those who have acquired the citizenship after immigrating here—feel proud of calling themselves Canadians, but at the same time they are rational enough to realize that holding that nationality doesn’t give them any superiority.
Now let’s go to the celebrations themselves. The weather didn’t cooperate much, although for most of the duration of the parade on Ste. Catherine St. the intermittent rain was not so pervasive as to cause any disruption to the close to 70 groups and floats that were present that day. As usual, the participation of many ethnic communities was a highlight of the event. The Chinese community involvement was certainly the one that had a greater impact with its many marchers, its float and colourful dragons. Also notable was the presence of the Filipino community, the Scandinavians with their famous Viking boat, and a significant presence of new participants Peruvians and Brazilians, adding to an already strong Latino presence of Bolivians and Panamanians.
The Canada Day in Montreal celebrations continued with events programmed at the Old Port including a fireworks display and numerous artistic performances, although during the afternoon the weather became even less cooperative. There was also the Discothèque 150 organized by the Jazz Festival and joining the Canada Day celebration.
The weather was the negative factor during the whole day, although at one point toward its ending there was an attempt to disrupt the parade on the part of a group called itself the Convergence de lutte anti-capitaliste (CLAC). Come on, guys! I’m really more anti-capitalist than any of you; I can prove it because unlike you, who don’t risk anything with your rhetoric, I put my life on the line in both Chile and Argentina because of my anti-capitalist commitment. At the time I was challenging the military in those countries, not comparable with challenging some unarmed young guys, women and children parading on the street! Not very courageous on the CLAC’s part I should add.
On the other hand, it is undeniable that the 150th anniversary of Canada provided an opportunity to highlight some real injustices committed against the Aboriginal people for which the country has not yet fully offered full reparation. But this indigenous demand cannot be seen or presented as de-legitimizing the very existence of the Canadian state and the fact that despite its historical dark moments, Canada today is a quite decent society, providing opportunities to most people, and an example regarding the valuing of diversity. The errors and injustices of the past should not obscure the achievements of the present.
Besides, it should not be ignored an important characteristic of Canada and the other countries on this continent. Unlike the European nation-states, founded by what we may consider their “indigenous” peoples, or at least, peoples who have lived long enough on those territories to have a legitimate claim to the land, the countries in the New World were created not by their indigenous peoples, but by the descendants of conquerors and colonizers. Moreover, they intended to make them in the image of the European states. The indigenous peoples of the Americas were the forgotten ones, not only in Canada but practically throughout this continent. The solution then is not to deny or de-legitimize these nation-states but to make them inclusive in respect to the original nations of the land. Perhaps as inclusive and diverse as the people from almost all over the world who were marching on Canada Day not because they wanted to take the land from somebody else, but because they wanted to share it with everyone.