This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

September-October 2016

Imagine a Canada where words matter

Wishes for the future of our country

Erin Wunker

ThisMagazine50_coverLores-minFor our special 50th anniversary issue, Canada’s brightest, boldest, and most rebellious thinkers, doers, and creators share their best big ideas. Through ideas macro and micro, radical and everyday, we present 50 essays, think pieces, and calls to action. Picture: plans for sustainable food systems, radical legislation, revolutionary health care, a greener planet, Indigenous self-government, vibrant cities, safe spaces, peaceful collaboration, and more—we encouraged our writers to dream big, to hope, and to courageously share their ideas and wish lists for our collective better future. Here’s to another 50 years!

I want a future Canada where words matter. Where stories are honoured and storytellers are valued. I want a Canada where diversity and equity are more than catch phrases. Words matter in future Canada. Words matter because they are the fabric that wove together Peace and Friendship Treaties. In future Canada we consult with one another; we respect difference without trying to erase it.

We respect the lands here in future Canada. We learn from the Original Peoples how to care for waters and respect lands. We acknowledge the names of the traditional territories we live on. If we are settler colonials we have learned about violences we inherited. And when stories are told in future Canada we listen to the storytellers. We sit at their feet and learn.

Here, in future Canada, we celebrate the multiplicity and richness of Black cultures and communities without forgetting that Canada was built by enslaved peoples.

In future Canada, if you are a displaced person or a refugee, we welcome you without asking you to foot your own bill. We work with you to access the health care, support, education, and public transit you need to start to settle into life here. Your neighbours bring you food, help you acclimatize to the seasons.

Future Canada is queer, by the way. Future Canada is bi-. Future Canada is transgender. Future Canada loves a rainbow, and it loves diversity of sexualities and identities more. Future Canada loves multiplicities and future Canada is made up of an army of lovers.

Here in future Canada we dance.

In future Canada mentorship is generous and respectful and doesn’t come with the risk of abuse. And guess what? In future Canada rape chants and racism don’t happen on college and university campuses with the dependable regularity of new notebooks being purchased for fall semester. In future Canada we just get the new notebooks.

In future Canada we believe survivors, but we don’t have any more victims, because in future Canada respect is real and consent is the bedrock of interaction. I’ll say it again: in future Canada we believe survivors. Always, we believe survivors.

In future Canada Tanya Tagaq is one of our most respected artists. El Jones is our poet laureate and we sit down and listen when she recites. In future Canada poetry changes minds and hearts. And the poets? They get paid, because in future Canada funding for the arts is at an all-time high.

Illustration by Matthew Daley

Erin Wunker is chairperson of the Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life is forthcoming with BookThug in fall 2016. She lives in K’jipuktuk/ Halifax.

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