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Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in Blogs

I was at a Remembrance Day ceremony

Yusur’s World: A better world is possible!

I was at #RemembranceDay ceremony!

I have never thought that I would ever attend Remembrance Day ceremony. Part of me would that I am not attending because I have no interest in doing so. The other part is the psychological trauma that I have because of war. Although I have never lived in Iraq and never witnessed the Iraq/Iran war, I lived all the moments of war through my father’s memories. I understand the reason behind remembering war veterans, but I am not convinced that any nation should ever have a day to remember and celebrate war and military.

Today was my first time attending Remembrance Day ceremony. I have to admit that I did not attend the ceremony to remember the veterans or to write a news story about it. I decided to attend the Remembrance Day ceremony because I was chasing Mayor Rob Ford, just like many other journalists. I recently developed an obsession, which I call “Rob Ford contagious Torontonian obsession.” If you are in Toronto, you certainly know what I am talking about. If you are not in Canada, type in Google search Rob Ford’s name and check out all the interesting things you will find about our mayor. He is indeed a very colourful personality worth being obsessed with (for the wrong reasons!). Now you know why I was there. Surprisingly, Ford showed up and gave a speech, which I did not expect. There were some boos from the crowds and few claps. Interesting!

While I was in a mission to find a fun story about Ford, I saw something that I have never expected. I am not sure if “never expected” is the right phrase to use here, but let me go with it and assume the good intentions of Toronto police who were supposed to be protecting the crowds at Remembrance Day ceremony outside the old city hall. I am trying to ignore the police brutalities that I witnessed during protests. But hey, there was no protest this time! Three unarmed peaceful men from the native community were standing behind the crowds. I recognized one of them. He used to be present during Occupy protests and indigenous solidarity events that I wrote about in the past. I don’t know his name, but I remember speaking to him once. He always has an angry face. I have never ever seen him smiling. Two of the men, including the one I know, were holding Native flags. The police surrounded them and the man I know yelled: “Is it illegal to hold our flags?” He looked at my face. I was not sure if he recognized me. Suddenly, I had the urge to cry. I did a good job at holding back my emotions and stared at the police officers. I grabbed my iPad and started video recording the arrest. The search and the arrest were very humiliating to the three men. Shockingly, there was only me and someone else who video recorded the incident. The crowds did nothing. I had a feeling that no one was bothered. Perhaps this feeling gave me the urge to cry. Again, the Native man’s stare at my face was haunting me. His eyes were telling me something about colonialism.

Colonialism perhaps is a broad term to use in my brief blog post, but those are the “colonialism” inspired questions that I want you to think about now: Is everyone in the crowds celebrating a colonial history and a militaristic society? Are we in a place where we can’t share land? Why are Native tribal flags banned during the Remembrance Day ceremony? Can’t the indigenous communities remember their lost ones?

After the thorough search (it was really thorough!), the police put the men in the car. It took the police officers around 6-7 minutes to search and arrest the three men. The car left and I know nothing about them.

That was my first time at Remembrance Day ceremony. I was not wrong when in the past I decided to not attend such ceremonies that celebrate the militaristic society instead of a peace building society. It is okay to celebrate and remember your loved veterans, but it is hypocritical to deprive others from their rights to celebrate and remember their culture and lost loved ones. By “others” here I mean the native communities who are being deliberately and continuously marginalized by the system.

Check out the video I posted on my Facebook page