Photo from Aurora High School
On October 19th Canadian people exercised their will and they ditched Harper’s fascistic politics in favor of a more open, more democratic agenda. This was happiness in itself, but then our new Prime Minister responded by revealing a 50% gender-equal cabinet (who else has it?) with some people-of-color representation. Watching the Oath Ceremony was a treat- (youtube.com) till I began to actually watch it. Person after bright-modern-day-well-educated person was, more or less, saying this:
‘I, [name], do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors. So help me God.’
After listening to half the cabinet, a question, actually this exact question, came to mind: Who’s Queen Elizabeth the Second, and why our elected representatives are swearing allegiance to her? Our elected representatives are hired and paid by us, and they should swear allegiance to the People of Canada NOT the Queen of England (parl.gc.ca).
Elizabeth the Second is the queen of England because that’s the only place her ancestors did not colonize for her and her ‘heirs and successors’ in the way that they had colonized most of the rest of the world including the areas now called Canada and Pakistan. She’s the queen of her native land, and so if the UK parliamentarians continue to swear allegiance to her, it’s their decision. But Canada is not England, and this is 2015.
In Canada, most people think that swearing allegiance to the Queen at citizenship and parliamentary oath ceremonies is just a ceremonial thing that has nothing much to do with their lives. This view is half true. Yes, the Queen has nothing to do with every day life of Canadian people, so much so that when people try to get her to do something, she doesn’t respond. The latest was in 2013 when Native Canadian leaders, after being refused by Harper, had turned to Queen Elizabeth the Second for a meeting, she never responded even when some of the leaders were on a hunger strike, and for me, that became a point of contention (gandholi.wordpress.com). The untruth is that what is projected as ‘just’ ceremonial, is actually a deep-seated foundational aspect of this system. It is as entrenched as the word ‘Islamic’ in ‘The Republic of Pakistan’ that you can not ask to be removed until you are willing to risk your life. For us in Canada to keep bowing to a colonial entity with such a bloody history against our own people, can’t just be a habit we acquired. It means, the interests of the Canadian ruling elites are tied to the British monarchy in similar ways that Pakistani ruling elites’ interests are tied to an ‘Islamic’ republic.
In the Canadian/American context, the UK Queen represents slavery of black people, the genocide of Indigenous Peoples, extreme exploitation of colored migrants, residential schools in the name of education, and a system of governance based on racial prejudice and privilege. If we want to move forward in a positive direction, we may need to sever ties with British monarchy, and it’s time, because as long as we don’t take this one small(!) step, we will not be able to take the big steps we want to take towards equality and harmonious existence of all peoples of Canada. To go forward in a positive direction, the Canadian Government must find lasting and honorable solutions with Indigenous peoples, so instead of continuing to keep the Canadian state as an agency of a harsh colonial entity, it’ll be an immense help to begin by severing ties with the British monarchy who began, protected and perpetuated such unfair relationships with Canadian peoples.
If by now, you are thinking, who (the hell) is she to talk like this, then allow me to introduce myself. I am a common Canadian citizen, a first generation migrant from a country that was part of the British Empire from 1757 to 1858 (East India Company) and from 1858 to 1947 (British Crown), where once in the span of a few weeks, 15 Million people were uprooted, 1-2 Million people were killed, 75,000 women were raped, just because of the manner in which the British monarchy chose to surrender it’s direct colonial rule in India. This is just a glimpse of the tail end of the painful history of our colonization so that you know that my association with British monarchy is 300 years old, and I have bone-felt reasons to not revere it or any other such formation.
If you are a Canadian, and you do revere Queen Elizabeth the Second and her ancestors, heirs and successors, I urge you to re-think your position. It is a loaded bloody history of world domination where local populations and cultures in Africa, Americas, Australia, Asia, were disrupted, exploited, killed and looted (one small example of loot: A diamond). Supporting and taking pride in such histories of global exploitation may stunt our own progress as individuals and it may place debilitating limits on the quality of our contributions to our lives and to our countries.
At this time, from over fifty Commonwealth states, only Sixteen ‘voluntarily continue to share the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, as their head of state’ (Wikipedia). I suggest, we do take this ‘voluntarism’ to task and become free of the bloodied colonial chains of our past.
There’s so much hunger, poverty, inequality and destitution in this World, i wonder, why do we need Saudi Kings and British Queens. The actual place they belong to is in (scary) fairy tales. As well, we don’t need the cultural ambassadorial Pop Queens towing lines of colonial warlords, charity-throwing filthy rich Humanity Queens posing with starving third world children, and Vaginal Feminism Queens bringing emancipation to the poor ignorant women of the third world.
The only queens we need are drag queens, the only kings we need are hikings, and the only monarchs we need are these (now bouncing back):
Britain deals with its colonial past
‘Violence, victors and victims: how to look at the art of the British empire’ by William Dalrymple
Another petition for the return of Koh-i-Noor diamond Dror Bar-Natan renounces allegiance to Queen, spurs Monarchy debate
New Victoria Mayor, Lisa Helps, Declines To Pledge Allegiance To The Queen
Supreme Court won’t hear citizenship oath to Queen challenge
THE MOLD RIOTS: THE SUMMER OF ‘69
(Links updated Dec 6/15)