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Canada’s National Parks Are Colonial Crime Scenes – The Walrus

Oct. 10, 2023

Many Canadians see wilderness as a right of citizenship. But the concept of Canada as a wilderness is unrecognizable to me and to other Indigenous people

In 2017, it felt like the whole country was swept up in the rah-rah celebrations around Canada 150. It was a collective anniversary, a chance to celebrate our history. Well, some of it, anyway. Tied to the many calls to explore the country and take stock of its many wonders, Parks Canada released its Discovery Pass, which granted free entry to all national parks that year. These natural spaces “represent the very best that Canada has to offer,” it announced in a press release. “They are the essence of our country because they tell stories of who we are, including the history, cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples.” But, as Robert Jago explored in his timely essay, Canada’s parks program was built on the displacement of Indigenous peoples and the capture of their territories—a form of “green colonialism.” Parks are wonderful spaces, but they have also acted as political cover for the control of land, a tactic we still see used today.—Daniel Viola, senior editor, November 2023 issue

Vancouver’s Stanley Park—a place known for its dense forests and primeval atmosphere—was, as recently as 150 years ago, home to Squamish villages. People lived there for thousands of years. On the eastern edge of the park, facing downtown, there is a little island known to the Squamish as skwtsa7s. Salish oral histories record that the island was the site of a siege, one that ended with a sacrifice described here by Legends of Vancouver:

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