Indigenous·Opinion

Canada is an abusive partner

A celebration of Canada is coming up, but as Ivana Yellowback writes, she won't be celebrating a country that has had an abusive relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

Why one Indigenous woman won't be celebrating Canada 150

A young girl holds a sign during an Idle No More protest at the Douglas-Peace Arch crossing on the Canada-U.S. border near Surrey, B.C., on Jan. 5, 2013. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

This piece originated from a Facebook status post.


Canada is like that one abusive partner you got into a relationship with because they seemed great at first, and made promising agreements to make a life with you.

They promised to treat you, your children and your family with the utmost respect. They offered to help with their education, their well-being and livelihood, so you agreed to be with them.

Then they started making up rules against and toward you, so you weren't able to fully be "yourself" within the relationship.

They told you that you weren't allowed to practise your way of prayer, even though it helped you, your children and family members years before. Instead, they wanted you to go to their place of prayer and their place of prayer only.

Then they moved you into isolation and stated that you needed their permission to leave, and you had to let them know when you'd be back, who you were going with, and what you were taking with you.

You weren't allowed to meet up with your family members or friends in private, or else they'd think you were conspiring against them, so they'd punish you if you did.

They then took your children and babies away from you and said they were "providing them with a good education," not allowing you to see them for months on end. When you protested, they called you "ungrateful" and said they were only "trying to help." Not knowing that your babies and children were being abused and turned against you.

After years of the abuse, you started to agree with their statements about you, your family members and your children, gaining addictions in the process to cope.

On the outside, this person was grand, fun to be with and had many friends. Whenever you spoke up against them in public, their friends would step in, tell you to "get over it" and say, "They wouldn't do that, they're too nice." You were dismissed.

And every year on your anniversary date, they would celebrate, forcing you to celebrate along while highlighting all of their accomplishments. If you didn't celebrate with them, their friends and family would sigh in frustration, not knowing why you were complaining to begin with.

I can go on and on about how Canada is an abusive partner. However, this status wouldn't have enough space for it.

With "Canada Day" coming up, the thoughts have been running deep as to why I won't and don't celebrate it.

About the Author

Tansi, my name is Ivana Yellowback and I am from Manto Sipi Cree Nation and Mathias Colomb Cree Nation; I am nehinaw (Swampy) and nihthaw (Rocky) Cree. I’m currently completing my first BA at the University of Winnipeg. I have worked within the social services field, primarily with youth in care, for over five years.