To the Editor,
Re: Society recommends cancelling annual Empire Days events, Feb. 24.
I am a third-generation Nanaimoite and I remember each May long weekend as a fun parade and a set of fireworks. We just always called it the May Day celebrations.
This is where I find it hard to see the other side of the story – I don’t see us re-enacting the introduction of white people with their liquor and disease to the land, or sending First Nations people off to residential schools. Events that absolutely happened, and I personally always feel sorrow and disgust for that time in our history. We would be ignorant not to realize the sacrifices the Snuneymuxw First Nation made so that the citizens of Nanaimo could live here. However, perhaps as a privileged white person, I don’t see celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday as celebrating the oppression of a culture. At the same time I can see how the word empire could be offensive because of its connotations of oppression.
The real problem I have with this whole issue is our local government’s role in this debacle. Re-naming Empire Days is a decision that should be made as a group, not something used as a bargaining chip for funding. These councillors need to realize that just because they were elected doesn’t give them ultimate power. They should smarten up, take the time to work with community groups, don’t railroad them into non-existence.