People on P.E.I. reflect on Queen's complicated legacy

·3 min read
'A lot of us come from countries that were either once colonized or continue to be colonized,' says Sobia Ali-Faisal, the executive director of BIPOC USHR. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
'A lot of us come from countries that were either once colonized or continue to be colonized,' says Sobia Ali-Faisal, the executive director of BIPOC USHR. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

While many continue to mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II across P.E.I. and the world — some who immigrated from different countries are reflecting on a complicated relationship with the sovereign.

"A lot of us come from countries that were either once colonized or continue to be colonized ... by the Royal Family and their riches, their wealth, their influence is … almost fully because of colonization as well as slavery," says Sobia Ali-Faisal, executive director of BIPOC USHR.

"For us, the Queen represented that history, that land theft, that theft of resources."

Ali-Faisal said everything the Royal Family built its legacy on includes violence in colonized countries, and she doesn't want to see that ignored.

Pakistan was part of the British Empire until independence in 1947.

The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press

Countries are still feeling the effects of colonization, Ali-Faisal said. Her family is originally from Pakistan. Right now the country is dealing with environmental issues, there is major flooding, and Ali-Faisal thinks the depletion of resources under the monarchy has contributed to the issue.

"All the money that was stolen, all the resources that were stolen. All the things that could have been used today to potentially engage for climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies that money isn't there. It was taken from us," she said.

"It just feels like our lives don't matter, the fact that so many of our nations were destroyed by her family." - Sobia Ali-Faisal

Seeing the Queen being celebrated can be traumatizing for those with similar backgrounds, Ali-Faisal said.

"It's dehumanizing because again her legacy, her riches, her wealth were all because of coming to the Global South and taking our things from us," she said.

"It just feels like our lives don't matter, the fact that so many of our nations were destroyed by her family. That doesn't really seem to matter to anybody; she is still considered a hero."

Ali-Faisal said she doesn't see anything to celebrate or any heroism.

"I mean no one is saying she needs to be vilified, but we need to recognize that she in her lifetime didn't do anything to try to make up for the sins of her ancestors."

Ali-Faisal thinks it's time for the Royal Family to consider giving monetary reparations to colonized countries.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Felicia Kari is from the Bahamas which remains part of the Commonwealth. She said there has been talk about the country gaining more independence.

"Well, I know that there were conversations about the Bahamas separating from the monarchy and taking our own sovereignty," she said.

"I'm just curious as I see now moving forward, what that's going to look like and if that step would be taken forward."

The Bahamas wouldn't be the first time a Caribbean country separated itself from the monarch. Barbados abolished its relationship with the monarchy last November.

Canada as a Commonwealth country

Canada remains as part of the Commonwealth and some are also reflecting on the country's relationship with the Royal Family.

"On one side I appreciate her as a head of state and as a woman, but on the other side the monarchy it is constantly linked to colonialism which is very much not a good thing," said Robin Noye, a third year student at UPEI.

"What her reign is linked to is unfortunate."

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Noye said colonialism was an "horrific event" and isn't something anyone one should be proud of.

"Reparations are still in process. We can never undo the past, but the way we are making up for it now, I don't think it is enough," she said.

Noye thinks there is a disconnect between what Canadians view in modern times as the country's monarchy and what actually happened as the Royal Family rose to power.