Empire Days name divides community

This is not an issue of ‘free speech.’ Rather this is an issue of setting a standard for community where all members are respected.

To the Editor,

Re: Society recommends cancelling annual Empire Days events, Feb. 24.

The celebration of ‘empire’ is anachronistic and highly offensive. Allowing the offensive name ‘Empire Days’ to carry on without acknowledging or challenging its association to a painful colonial history generates ill will and divisiveness.

The Empire Days society has the right to organize a day called Empire Days. We, however, also have the right to express our view that public funds should not be going to an event that celebrates, in its name, such a harmful aspect of our history. We want public funds to go to an event that reflects our desire for an inclusive community and one that we can all feel good about.

This is not an issue of ‘free speech.’ Rather this is an issue of setting a standard for community where all members are respected.

The impact of colonization and empires are not things of the past. Vanishing indigenous languages, theft of land, and loss of culture are some of the legacies of our colonial past and not to be celebrated. This is an issue of social justice.

While there may be various views on this question, staying silent is not an option. If we wait for unanimity, change never happens.

Chris Bowers, Terre Flower, Maria Gomes, Cheryl Wardvia e-mail

 

To the Editor,

Re: City should have backed Empire Days, Letters, Feb. 24.

Just ask yourselves where we would be as a civilization without all those prior empires from which we continue to learn and grow; they all had faults but if we decide to ignore them by this form of treatment we have learned nothing.

We cannot undo the harm that may have been done but we can and must continue to learn and implement the lessons that have been learned; demanding that an organization change its name is akin to trying to ignore history.

Austin Gilbertvia e-mail