Meanwhile, in Canada…
There is a tendency among some Canadians, when so many horrible things are happening south of our border, to flood their online presence with stories of the good parts of Canada.
The stories are often small and trite, compared to the atrocities happening elsewhere: a man helping a turtle cross the road, a moose finding its way into a coffee shop, a Prime Minister caught without a shirt on. These stories contrast from bigotry and hatred in the United States, and are almost always accompanied by the flippant phrase, “meanwhile, in Canada…”
Meanwhile, fuck that.
There is no pride in saying “we are better than you,” especially when we are not. Rubbing our differences in the faces of those struggling with threats to their lives does not help them, and nor does it help us.
I live in a Canada where I experience racism and hatred—not just systemic and insidious, but overt and unashamed—regularly; this happens not just in my mid-sized, less-cosmopolitan town where I live now, but even happened when I was living in the “most diverse” city in the world. When hatred is being manifested south of the border, saying “meanwhile in Canada” ignores the fact that many of us have to live with hatred here: it erases our experience.
The neo-Nazi, white supremacist rhetoric and actions that we see in the United States is not geographically-bound; there is a rise (and a history) of such sentiment on our side of the 49th parallel as well. We need to recognize it, confront it, and eradicate it before it culminates in events like today’s in Charlottesville.
When bad things happen elsewhere and you get the urge to say “meanwhile, in Canada…,” I sincerely hope you follow up that sentence with “we’re fighting hard against this, because hatred, sadly, isn’t absent here either.”