My favourite line in the Canadian anthem is “with glowing hearts we see thee rise”. This resonates with me because that’s the Canada I want to believe in, get behind and sing and breathe into existence. I want to see Canada rise into a nation that owns our history and commits deeply to a better future. Over the last few days, I’ve had a lot of conversations with my fellow Canadians around what Canada Day means to them. Overwhelmingly, everyone I talk to is grateful to live in Canada and to be afforded the freedoms and opportunities that this land and it’s people affords. I’ve also heard more and more people talking about how these things that we are grateful for came as a result of colonization and the intentional efforts, including the establishment of residential schools, to destroy Indigenous societies. It’s a hard truth to look in the mirror and know that this is our reality. To know the lasting impact this has on our Indigenous friends and to see the legacy of that pain. However, it is our truth and one that we as a nation need to really examine and feel in order to see thee rise.
I’d be lying if I said that I know what the answers are – I don’t. What I know as a settler whose family’s lineage in this country pre-dates Confederation, is that I have learning to do. That it is my responsibility to seek out educational experiences, such as the programming offered at the Woodland Cultural Centre, for myself and my family. That it is my obligation as a treaty person to listen deeply to the needs and desires of my Indigenous neighbours and to learn from all they know about this land and its relations. I also feel deeply that it is my job to do what I can to put my money where my mouth is and to help fund programs and policies that support Indigenous resurgence.
Our newest shirt release is one such effort that Revolution Now is making to contribute towards truth and reconciliation. Our orange shirt has been designed by Wikwemikong Nation artist, Keith Gattie. Gattie says that this artwork pays tribute to the children who attended residential schools and also looks forward to a better future. The apple tree in the shirt is a symbolic reference to the apple orchard that was replanted by survivors behind the former Mohawk Residential School. It is our absolute honour to donate $8.00 from every shirt purchased to the Indigenous Educational Youth Programming at the Woodland Cultural Centre, which is the location of the former Mohawk Residential School. The language on the front of our orange shirt is Anishinaabemowin and loosely translates to “We Change What We Must”. This rallying cry is the core of what our team at Revolution Now believes. We must change oppression, we must change the way we hold up our nation to nation agreements, we must hear the truths of our Indigenous friends and we must collectively work towards a future where we honour our land and all who live here.
We understand that this is the challenge of our lifetime, that it will require a monumental effort by many but that it can only happen if we start with individual accountability and a collective desire to change what we must. Today, we are grateful for the Revolutionaries who have made this commitment. We are thankful to the many friends who have supported the Keith Gattie collection and are excited to share that Keith will be giving over three thousand dollars this week to Gwekwaadziwin Miikan Youth Mental Health & Addiction Program on Manitoulin Island on behalf of Revolution Now.
As famous lesbian writer Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” This is our time Revolutionaries, let’s go change the world!!