a blog by ryan hayes

Facing Canada’s Racism and Colonialism

These posters are about Canada. They are about foundational myths. Foundational double standards.

If you are from the wrong side of whiteness, colonialism and capitalism – witness the frenzy and fury when you arrive at these shores.

Now, turn to these posters from Canadian Pacific Steamships, and consider, who is being invited to bring their families, to travel and to enjoy leisure – and at whose expense? Whose land, whose labour, whose bodies and whose cultures are being violated to underwrite these experiences?

Come Britishers. Bring your racisms, bring your patriarchies, homophobias, and ableisms to Canada.

Enjoy native land, enjoy native culture, enjoy native people, enjoy native land, enjoy our land, enjoy our land.

See the noble savage? See the servant?

Of course not, he has no face. She has no face. Coal face. Coal face has no eyes.

We do our duty to support the wars. Visit our tributes to empire. Stay a while, take comfort.

The world is in our hands. Sail the White Empress. Go Empress to the Orient. Go empire.

Go anywhere – until the empire strikes back, until truth speaks to colonial power, until the double standard is called, and boats show up on your doorstep.

No One Is Illegal!

Sources (in order of image appearance from top to gallery):

[1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11] Posters of the Canadian Pacific, Marc H. Choko and David L. Jones, 2004.
[3, 4, 5, 8] L’affiche au Québec: des origines à nos jours, Marc H. Choko, 2001.

Update (April 2014): I saw a familiar poster while at my TDSB weaving class, except now with an attempt to re-write the racist, exclusionary message into a warm and fuzzy (albeit totally historically inaccurate) tapestry of inclusion. What better way to legitimate ongoing forms of exclusion?



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