Dear SPPH Community,
Can you believe it’s already July? With the province in “Phase 3”, I’m sure we’re all looking forward to taking some well-earned down time, enjoying family and friends (safely, calmly, kindly), and exploring close to home. Summer should be warming us, although this last week of “Juneuary” had me wondering!
You can find information about what Phase 3 means for your family on the B.C. Government’s B.C. Restart website, including the gradual and part-time return to in-person K-12 school, overnight camping, and staying at lodges, resorts, and hotels. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing more of the province now, respectfully visiting other communities that are welcoming visitors.
Being considerate and aware of the wishes of communities is especially important in the context of the history of other pandemics, and how they have specifically affected First Nations communities.
Early July brings me two important reminders — the statutory holiday of Canada Day July 1 and U.S. Independence Day on July 4. As a relative newcomer to Canada, I took this as an opportunity to learn about the history of these days and what they mean. July 1 was formerly known as Dominion Day, and it marks the date in 1867 when the British North America Act came into effect. This day also marks the formalization of colonial institutions and structures. For some, these structures have caused harm, and to them the celebration of the day can be hurtful. I especially appreciated this column from a few years ago about Indigenous perspectives on the holiday.
U.S. Independence Day on July 4 celebrates the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776. Today, this continues to be an inspiring statement of freedom from colonization, containing the famous words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This declaration did not question the presence of widespread chattel slavery in the same initial thirteen states. We are reminded again today of this terrible legacy and its continued effects by the renewed need to assert that black lives matter. We have already seen progress to reduce the narrow focus on “men”, more is needed and we still struggle with more equal treatment based on gender.
So, as we enjoy some of the many pleasures that human, social, political, and material progress enable for us, it’s important to keep in mind that these days hold different meanings for different people and that the struggles for a better world for all are not over.
Happy July…and keep in touch!
PETER BERMAN, PhD
Professor and Director
School of Population and Public Health