The Canadian government has designed new passports, including watermarks showing “iconic images from Canadian History”, according to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. What can we learn from these images? That Canada is a land of sporty and occasionally military white guys. Almost no women, people of colour, artists or poets, and Canada’s aboriginal peoples are symbols only, not actual historic or contemporary peoples.
Canadian columnist Heather Mallick puts it best:
“The passport contains 22 visual watermarks portraying the essence, the uniqueness of Harperlandia. There are, by my count, 98 images of males, six of females. There are various landscapes, from the north, the Prairies and Newfoundland, plus Niagara Falls. There are football players and hockey players, a warship, three war memorials, the RCMP and a soldier. But there is no image of Toronto or Vancouver and no aboriginal Canadian. Apparently only one Canadian verging on our lifetime (Terry Fox) has ever distinguished himself.
According to the government, we are white guys, rural, warlike and sporty, but not literate. Our landscapes are bleak, our buildings drab, our statuary undistinguished. These are not propellant images. In most, we are either stationary or plodding.
Worse, not a single Canadian face is shown cracking a smile.
All the historical maps are blank, apparently sans Inuit or First Nations, and there are no modern maps including the border cities we favour.”
This is not a Canada I know, or want to inhabit!