The governments of Canada and the provinces have long enjoyed the concept of relocation. Relocating people in theory may have made sense in some contexts; there are always apologists waiting in the wings to paint Canada as an altruistic, loving figure. But the methods behind the madness, including cutting services and leaving people with no support in their new “home”, make apologies die in any reasonable person’s throat. Shockingly, Canada has a record of doing forced relocations in a hap-hazard, painful way. I can’t possibly fathom how that could be. Canada? Being evil towards its own people? No way!
Naturally, Canada needed to get the more brutal displays of evil down before it could get to the real meat and potatoes of malice like splitting families and using the disparate parts as human flagpoles. Given Canada’s long, ignoble track record of shitting on brown people the Indigenous were stop number one on Canada’s Tour of Sadness. Here are the Cree charging Canada both with having forced relocations of their people (with severe negative repercussions) in the past and with neglecting this point in modern Indigenous negotiation. And if you think that’s a new phenomenon check out this paper on the savagery inflicted upon the Sayisi Dene, who were evacuated in the span of hours in the name of stopping a claimed decline in caribou populations…that ended up not existing. The Sayisi Dene were shipped to Northern Manitoba and promptly ignored until half of their population died in 20 years, two-thirds of whom were killed violently. There are concentration camps with lower kill rates, guys.
But what would Canada be without its multiculturalism? That’s right, friends. Canada was ready to bring the prospect of forced, uncoordinated relocation to people of all stripes! Of course, Canada saved its most sadistic cruelty for the Indigenous, because that’s what Canada does when it isn’t either ignoring the Indigenous or trying to tokenize their existence into history-baubles. There’s still that time Canada wanted to experiment with integrating the Inuit into the wage economy and to that end closed a Moravian settlement named Hebron without the slightest bit of information or planning time given to the Inuit. Not like Canada having plans gave the relocated any reason to smile – ask Japanese-Canadians. On the other side of the spectrum we have Canada’s “ah, fuck it” method of beinging the pain to communities on full display with Africville, which suffered decades of neglect from the governments of Halifax and Nova Scotia and was torn down as onlookers looked on in horror! Even white people got to lose under Canadian relocation projects – Newfoundlanders who abandoned their untenable fishing villages found themselves without work in the “designated growth areas” that planners had suggested. See? Multiculturalism: anyone of any race can get fucked with the long salty dong of Canadian incompetence and then be told to forget that it happened. I bet the Cadets don’t teach this stuff either.
Before we close up here, I need to put some basics down to close out my argument. My problem is not that Canada relocated people; there are cases, like in Newfoundland, where communities had been built for single-resource extraction that simply no longer worked. But between Canada moving people for selfish reasons (the Inuit “human flagpoles” and the Cree), Canada misreading evidence and in the process nearly slaughtering an entire people (the Sayisi Dene), Canada simply not bothering to tell people that their homes were to be moved (Hebron), Canada’s incredible lapse in moral judgement (which is often revised out of Canada’s hoo-rah war stories), Canada neglecting segments of the population until they are simply forced to move (Africville and, come to think of it most of these examples), and Canada inventing systems and infrastructure that just didn’t work (Newfoundland), Canada has definitely shit the bed on the file. If I were to give Canada an award for its efforts it would look like this: