Every Canada Day, I’m struck by the meaning of the word Canada itself. It’s amazing how quickly the history of word can be lost, absorbed into bursts of national pride and fireworks, washed away by a legacy of colonization. This Canada Day, in light of the forward momentum propelling our Nation as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission story, I invite you to reflect on how the word Canada was born.
The Iroquoian word Kanata, meaning 'village', was adopted by Jacques Cartier in 1535. Eventually, the spelling was modified to Canada. It’s a powerful metaphor - to think of the country that we live in as 'village', or Kanata, reminds us of all those we interact with. It has us think of markets, of working, singings and praying together. It reminds us of a closeness we share despite our differences.
During this Nation's time of reconciliation, governments, institutions, organizations, churches and each one of us are being called to a revival of the village; of walking with one another, of helping our neighbours, and of understanding each other's way of life. It’s a call to reconsider our assumptions of things “as they are,” and instead calls to imagine how things have been and could potentially be. It is a call to hope, to peace, and to community together. To me, it’s why this Canada Day is particularly memorable.
Oh Kanata...the village.
Lyndsay Mollins Koene is the Coordinator of MCC Ontario’s Indigenous Neighbours program, which advocates for Indigenous justice, supports indigenous families, and helps create a community of dialogue and understanding surrounding indigenous culture and history.