Sometimes you have to listen to Dad - even if your dad happens to be Pierre Trudeau. When asked about apologies for historic injustices, Pierre Trudeau said “I think it is the job of governments, to be just within our own time”. His son Justin has ignored that advice in favour of apologizing for everything but his own mistakes. Justin particularly likes to apologize on behalf of our long-dead ancestors. Pierre Trudeau may have been correct though, it is difficult to fix history. We might be better served to govern our own actions here and now.
We run into the weight of history at any public gathering which begins with a statement that the ground we stand on is the traditional land of First Nations. To do so is considered to be some form of kindness even though the specifics of treaties are never mentioned, as if unimportant. These present day “acknowledgements” seek to overwrite whatever was brokered long ago.
To rewrite history on a whim is a dangerous road. I also find it distasteful to apologize for what others have done. We cannot right all the wrongs of the past. All those people are gone, yet here we all are, born with some kind of equal claim to the present, despite the actions of our forefathers.
The present is inconvenient to historic grievances. It means you have to assign guilt to those living now, based solely on their ancestry. Communist countries have routinely turned this kind of group guilt into a bloodbath. Still, the line dividing good and evil runs through every human heart. People who claim to love justice, act justly. Those who cry for peace, must be peaceable. It could not be any other way.
I am also wondering what is the goal of mantras suggesting the land on which we stand has not been had legitimately. Are we supposed to hand over title and deed to our homes? If not, why are we mouthing platitudes?
Last time I checked, there are laws which govern the division and purchase of land in Canada. I am obliged to get title to the deed, to prove that I have paid for it lawfully, and that there are no existing liens on that land. Once that has been established, I am free to build and live upon the plot I have purchased, within established limits, and providing I pay my ongoing taxes.
It seems we are now redefining rights of ownership. It makes me question why I am paying land transfer fees, a mortgage, and property taxes. The people who require me to obey such laws have some explaining to do. If they do not have an answer, then I have a land affirmation of my own, and I am fairly passionate about it.
“I acknowledge that the land I am standing on is the traditional territory of Trevor Toop and Abir Harouni, who by their sweat and labour, established a home on this spot with their own savings. This homestead was maintained by their hard work, for the raising and nurturing of their children, to whom they owe some kind of secure and safe existence. The land today is sustained by their care, stewardship and diligence...”
That’s my affirmation, a bit more specific than “somebody lived here sometime”. All others need not apply. Why do I say all this? Because it’s 2021. And because it is enough for us to be just in our own time. Some advice for Junior. Listen to Dad, he was right on that one.