Rap isn't usually my jam but this song came on CBC Radio 3 a minute ago and grabbed my attention. As I thought about his message, I reflected on how colonialism is alive today in Canda.

The artist is Shad, who was born in Kenya of Rwandan parents but has lived in Canada since was a tot (thanks Wikipedia!). I'm sure many of you are familiar with him. In this song, he talks about immigrant life - from working your ass off to make a better future for yourself to reflecting back on your past knowing your life as it is now.

Anyways, I know basically nothing about rap music but I do know about Canadiana and I think this song paints a great picture of new or first generation Canadian life. I particularily liked the last verse:

Now when you're Third World born, but First World formed
Sometimes you feel pride, sometimes you feel torn
See my Mother's tongue is not what they speak where my Mother's from
She moved to London with her husband when their son was 1
And one time after Family Ties, I turned on the news and saw my family die
[Why?] Pops said there's murder in the motherland
Things about colonialism I didn't understand

Colonialism runs deep in many regions, but it's very tangible in Canada. This is likely based in British pride from the early days. The French were here, the British came, the fought so both had to up their own form of patriotism and in the end, most of Canada was settled by people of English decent (and of course, immigrants). French people spread out across the country as well, but certainly the largest pocket from Francophones are in Quebec with many parts of the east coast being nearly exclusively French.


Nowadays, colonialism is dressed as history: remembered fondly. An example of this is Prime Minister Stephen Harper adding 'royal' back on to our military forces in 2011. The 'royal' was removed in 1968 when our forces were all renamed under the umbrella term, 'Canadian Forces'. Conservatives argued that "restoring the former names of the army, navy and air force is a way of connecting today's Canadian Forces members with a proud history". Former defence minister Paul Hellyer, the guy who ended the use of 'royal', succinctly said "I think it's really moving [Canada] backward," to "semi-colonial status."

I remember sparring with someone new to the forces when this change went into effect. His argument was that it does connect us to our past glories and unites us with current-day Britain. My argument was that it's a slap in the face to anyone who doesn't have Motherland blood, many of whom were actually on the receiving end of British and Commonwealth violence. A pretty cut and dry case of 'to the victor goes the spoils' - the spoils in this case being the right to throw your conceptualization of history in the face of others who were destroyed by it.

Of course that's just my way of seeing it. I'm a white Canadian, born an raised. I have English heritage on my dad's side. My mom's side is what her dad calls 'Heinz 57' - we're a mix of everything. I call it 'Canadian', as a tip of the hat to the diversity that ultimately made Canada what it is today.