(Brooke’s generosity Blog)
This has to be the least known holiday of the calendar year. Every province and territory has a different name for this holiday. In the Province of Ontario, this ‘Civic Holiday” can be named by the municipalities, if they so choose. Some choose, it is:
- Colonel By Day in Ottawa,
- George Hamilton Day in Hamilton,
- Joseph Brant Day in Burlington,
- Founders’ Day in Brantford,
- McLaughlin Day in Oshawa,
- Alexander Mackenzie Day in Sarnia,
- James Cockburn Day in Cobourg,
- Peter Robinson Day in Peterborough,
- John Galt Day in Guelph,
And in Kitchener Waterloo? It is called… ‘Civic Holiday.” So, what would we call it if we could make a suggestion? Perhaps we could avoid naming it after a dead white person who identifies as male. What would be inclusive and welcoming, while also informative?
Perhaps, we could call this “Compassion Day” or “Welcoming Day” acknowledging the long tradition of welcoming new comers. Our land is from the traditional lands of the Neutral, Anishnawbe, and Haudenosaunee peoples on the Haldimand Tract (1784). The Haldimand tract was a gift to the Mohawk people as a result of their armed assistance to the British forces during the American Revolutionary War. Britian lost. So, Mohawks needed to get out of America. Fast.
The official website of Waterloo Region says this about the Mohawk people: “Joseph Brant, a key native leader in the war, aided the British and unified the Iroquois alliance against the Americans. The natives fought alongside the Canadians and the fear they instilled in the Americans was a significant factor in preserving Canada from the revolution.”
So, in a way our very existence as a nation is a result of the courage and alliances that were made with aboriginal peoples.
The land for the gift to the Mohawk peoples came from the Government representative Frederick Haldimand, who was ‘Captain General and Governor in Chief of the province of Quebec and Territories depending thereon.’ This was prior to the separation of Ontario, or Upper Canada, from Lower Canada, (Quebec.) These were the traditional grounds of the Neutral, Anishnawbe, and Haudenosaunee nations, who were not consulted.
In Kitchener Waterloo, the first Mennonites arrived in shortly after the American Revolution, in the 1780’s. They traveled north from Pennsylvania and settled in both Kitchener and Waterloo. They were German speaking Swiss. In the fullness of time many German speaking people were welcomed as immigrants. In nearby Galt, the primary immigrant group was from Scotland, with many also from England. The towns and villages were formed to serve the farming community, which employed the most people by far.
Today our community is diverse and blessed by peoples of all nations who make this place home. This enhancement to our community is justly celebrated at the annual Multi-Cultural Festival, which this year was on June 24th.
How privileged we are to live here. We are blessed.