It’s come to my attention that there’s an organization pushing for a monument to be raised here in Vancouver, in George Wainborn Park, “for the sole purpose of providing recognition to the significant contribution of Irish Canadians and Canadians of Irish descent to Canada”.
I object to this (and yes, I’m Irish) for a number of reasons that I’ve outlined in an email to that organization. I’ve included it below.
The proposal is being evaluated by the Vancouver Parks and Recreation dept. While the period of public consultation is technically over, I’m sure that they’ll still pay attention to any objections that come their way. (I suspect that expressing anti-Irish sentiment will not be well-received. Just a heads up.)
I’ve emailed that department, and the Monument group. I’m going to appeal to our shared history. Should ye feel moved to do so, ye are welcome to take liberally from my comments.
I am both an Irish citizen and a Canadian citizen. I immigrated here in May 2006, so I’ve been here a while. I only recently became aware of your organisation via the Talk Vancouver invitation for input about the George Wainborn Park Ireland Canada monument.
As an Irishperson, I’d like to lodge an objection to this piece.
That is to say that as someone who comes from a land that was colonised for centuries, taken by force from a people whose rights went unrecognised, where the colonisers raised self-aggrandising monuments to their own egos, spitting in the faces of the natives of that land, I object to *people who should know better* doing the same here.
Any contribution of the Irish, here, to Canada-as-a-nation is de facto contributing to the oppression and erasure of the rights of the native populace, especially here in BC where the treaties were torn up, and the land seized.
Did we not have enough of this back in Ireland? Are ye seriously suggesting that this be celebrated? By what right do you claim to do this in my name, and the names of my brothers (also here in Canada), and my parents and my ancestors?
I get that ye are trying to forge links between Ireland and Canada, and I commend the majority of your work. As someone who grew up surrounded by monuments, I have to admit that I do, indeed, feel their lack here. Frankly…. This is Belgium building a monument to the UK in Cork, after the League of Nations refused to recognise Ireland’s Sovereignty.
But I feel that this particular monument is misplaced, for the reasons I outlined above, in addition to simply being in poor taste. It’s a bit gauche, no?
So let me add something constructive at the end of this letter.
We Irish have far more in common with the natives than the Crown. The same systems of power that sought to eradicate our culture have also sought to eradicate the culture and heritage of the natives (with a great deal more success). The Crown has been a force of destruction in the lives of both of our peoples, as has the Catholic Church (given its hand in the Residential schools, and the Laundries of Ireland).
Additionally, it’s a significant understatement to say that we, as a people owe the Choctaw Nation (of Oklahoma) a debt that can never be repaid. While the bands/tribes here are not the Choctaw Nation, I see no reason to regard them any less, or to treat them with any less respect than we would (I hope) the Choctaw. Why not pay that respect forward?
Why not a monument by the Irish for the Natives of BC? Why not recognise their plight, as one damaged culture to another? To tell them that they are seen and heard, across time and distance, and that they do not stand alone? To build up someone else, instead of aggrandizing ourselves? To help those of Irish descent here get past the stereotypes of Natives that have been fed to them, and to see them as more than a stereotype (something, I would hope, any Irish person can relate to)?
(And, sure, some material aid wouldn’t go amiss either)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Choctaw_Nation_of_Oklahoma# Great_Irish_Famine_aid_. 281847.29
I hope this is received as the constructive remonstration that it is intended as.
Formerly of Tallaght,
Of Achill Island (on my paternal side), and of Canada (on my maternal)
Just a few off the cuff thoughts.