Canada’s 150th anniversary calls for charity and advocacy

Canada Day is around the corner, and this year’s holiday marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the day that three British colonies were united to form the foundation of the modern Canadian state.

“Canada150,” as the commemoration is being called, is set to include festivities from coast to coast, including concerts, parades, and of course fireworks. In addition to celebrating, Canadians are being encouraged to mark the occasion with acts of generosity, especially as charitable organizations across the country launch campaigns and fundraisers tied to the 150th anniversary.

Ontario Parents Advocation for Children With Cancer (OPACC) have targeted their Canada150 campaign at one of the hidden costs in Canada’s healthcare system: hospital parking. Families of young patients, who are at the hospital on a daily basis, often struggle to cover the expenses of their children’s stay. OPACC is calling on Canadians to support these families, noting that every $150 raised will provide parking passes for three families with children at SickKids in Toronto or McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton.

For the more internationally-minded donors there is the Canada-Mathare Education Trust, a group that provides scholarships to secondary and post-secondary students from the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya. The organization has so far funded the education of 130 young Kenyan scholars, and hopes to raise enough money to increase that number to 150 before the celebrations on July 1st.

These two charitable organizations, and many more, are fundraising through CanadaHelps.org, a nonprofit fundraising platform for Canadian charities. With hundreds of Canada150 campaigns hosted on their site, CanadaHelps aims to make the country’s 150th year a high mark in, what they’ve termed “our nation’s rich history of charitable giving.”

It’s worth noting, however, that a rosy view of the holiday is far from universal.

It’s worth noting, however, that a rosy view of the holiday is far from universal. Critics have argued that Canada150 amounts to a celebration of oppressive European colonialism and the ongoing marginalization of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, whose history goes back thousands of years before Confederation. Idle No More, an Indigenous rights movement, has declared July 1st a “National Day of Action,” calling on supporters to host or attend rallies, to express their opposition on social media using the hashtag #Resist150, and to purchase copies of Unsettling Canada, a Wake-Up Call by late First Nations activist Arthur Manuel, which will be discounted until Canada Day.

Idle No More is not the only movement to stress the importance of promoting Indigenous literary voices. Twice Upon a Time, an Ottawa-based literacy advocacy group, is raising funds to purchase children’s books by and about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples to be included in their distribution efforts. Their Indigenous Materials Project, inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, aims to provide young people of all backgrounds with a complete understanding of Canada and its history through education.

To learn more about which causes you want to give back to this Canada Day, click here.

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