Jul. 5th, 2017

This land is not your land. This land is not my land. It's all sacred unceded indigenous territory.

Or so the current thinking seems to go. I may have been born and raised right here in Ottawa, but nowadays it almost seems I have to apologize for being a Canadian!

On Saturday, July 1, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people descended on downtown Ottawa hoping to get to Parliament Hill or at least one of the nearby sites to enjoy the festivities, only to be met with four- and five-hour lineups for security screening. Worse than the airport, for sure. The main difference being that if you go through all the indignities and freedom-losses of airport security screening, you at least have a reasonable hope of getting to some far-flung exotic place you've never seen before, whereas in this case, people were bravely enduring all this just to get to their own backyard. Oh, wait - we mustn't consider it our backyard any more, because it's all contested land! Then, on Sunday July 2, thousands of hardy souls did it all over again to be able to say "Oui!" to We-Day.

Luckily I stayed home both days but those who did make it to the Hill were met by a cacophony of conflicting national and cultural and celebratory symbols and personae: a teepee, Charles and Camilla, Gordon Lightfoot, Gord Downie, fireworks, weather (including thunderstorms and summer downpours), and so forth. Shards of broken glass making up the vertical mosaic?

But according to one letter to the editor in today's paper, the national anthem was not sung once during all those hours the letter-writer was on the hill for the festivities. Of course, maybe that's because no one is sure any more what the words are to "O Canada". Maybe some thought it might be more appropriate to sing "God Save the Queen", given that the heir to the throne was on the Hill - but didn't know for sure what the protocol was and didn't want to offend anyone or risk getting kicked off their hard-earned spot on the Hill.

Maybe we should forget about our current national anthem and go with "Land of the Silver Birch" instead?

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