Wednesday 1 July 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 1/7/2020

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Opinion / Tomos Lewis

Oh Canada

Today will be my sixth Canada Day since moving to Toronto and, as flags are unfurled and fireworks ring out, I still enjoy the feeling of being, effectively, an outsider looking in on the festivities that mark my adopted home’s national day. Like all such holidays, its meaning and significance tend to vary depending on who you ask. That’s particularly true in a city such as Toronto, where more than half of those of us who live here were born somewhere else.

Canada Day will mean something quite different to those who were offered refuge here – from wars in Syria, Afghanistan or Vietnam, or upheavals in Venezuela and Hong Kong – than it does to Canada’s large and long-standing European, Chinese, Iranian and Caribbean communities, for example. It is a contested date on the calendar for Canada’s First Nations and Indigenous communities, for whom Canada Day is the commemoration of the moment their marginalisation in the life of the nation was formalised and written into law. Many Canadians also tend to find some sense of national validation by looking south to the US – where July 4th celebrations take place this weekend – and gain reassurance that life north of the border feels, in many respects, better and fairer. But the protests against systemic racial bias in the US have taken place just as vociferously in Canadian cities too, sharpening conversations and calls for institutional reform.

This year’s holiday will be more subdued than usual – most official events have been scaled back or called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s a pause that feels especially potent this year: many communities across the country should take this moment to reflect, demonstrate, unpick and, indeed, celebrate what Canada means to them.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Hong Kong

Fight or flight

China’s new security bill for Hong Kong became law yesterday and with few people doubting Beijing’s intentions it’s already had a chilling effect on political activism. Leading pro-democracy figure Joshua Wong has resigned from his political party while other groups have shut down ahead of relocating overseas. However, several Hong Kong activists are vowing to go ahead with an annual protest march today to mark the anniversary of the city’s handover to China in 1997. But turnout is expected to be markedly down on last year and Hong Kong’s days of mass protest marches could be numbered. “We can’t stop [China] doing this if they insist but they will lose more than they’ll gain,” Malcolm Rifkind, the UK’s foreign secretary for much of the period leading up to the 1997 handover, told M24’s The Briefing. “All of the young vigorous people in Hong Kong and many of the international businesses will have packed up and gone.”

Image: Getty Images

History / Belgium

Sorry state

The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement over recent weeks has raised important questions not only about the need for current reforms to tackle racism globally but for a reappraisal of the past. King Philippe of Belgium yesterday became the latest public figure to address the latter: in a letter delivered to the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi (pictured, on left, with King Philippe), on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s independence from Belgium, Philippe expressed his regrets for the barbarism perpetrated by his country in the colony. Regret and apology aren’t necessarily the same but it nonetheless marks a turning point for Belgium. While some, including Philippe’s brother, Prince Laurent, have spoken out in defence of King Leopold II, to whom much of the most egregious colonial violence has been ascribed, Philippe’s letter represents an overdue – but welcome – acknowledgement of oppression. And it serves as a reminder to all former colonial powers that although history can’t be rewritten, reconciliations can and should be offered.

Image: Kynan Tegar

Culture / Global

Pictures of health

Artists and photographers have banded together for a number of fundraising projects over the past few months, sometimes to support cultural institutions that are at risk of closure and often to contribute to organisations whose remit goes beyond the arts. Even as lockdowns lift across different countries, the number of projects that require assistance continues to multiply – and the If Not Us Then Who? charity has highlighted a particular area of need. Due to often inadequate access to health structures, indigenous communities around the world are especially vulnerable to coronavirus and the effects of the pandemic threaten some tribes’ very survival. That’s why the charity has launched its Prints for Communities initiative, selling photographs by indigenous artists (or photographers who have long documented these communities) and returning all profits to their communities. Impactful images by the likes of Indonesian-born Kynan Tegar (The Long House, pictured) and Siberian-Chinese-American Kiliii Yuyan will remain on sale on the website until 22 July.

Image: Luigi Fiano

Fashion / Global

Return to splendour

It’s been a tough few months for the fashion sector but as shops reopen, manufacturing resumes and consumers think about what to wear as they step back out into the world, it’s time to celebrate the industry. Monocle’s “Summer Style” manifesto in our July/August issue highlights the warm-weather collections, up-and-coming designers and notable new shops that should be on your radar. We visit the Roman studio of womenswear label Apuntob (pictured), go running in Colorado with sports-shoe brand Active 88, swing by Uniqlo’s impressive new Harajuku flagship and check in on a wave of young designers in Rio de Janeiro. There are wry comment pieces on summer looks, profiles of brands rethinking how to recycle materials and a reflection on how to make the perfect T-shirt. Oh, and plenty of beach-ready sandals and smart summer hats to covet too. Enjoy.

M24 / On Culture

Brit Bennett

Author Brit Bennett tells Robert Bound about her new novel, ‘The Vanishing Half’, which explores the lives of twin sisters from a black community in the US Deep South. The sisters run away from home and live their lives differently: one as black, the other as white.

Monocle Films / Switzerland

The Chiefs: Monocle summit in St Moritz

The past few months have shown us that there’s no substitute for face-to-face conversations. As we begin to look forward with optimism, there are opportunities to be discussed, ideas to be shared and challenges to be met. Join us this September in the Swiss Alps for inspiring discussions, great hospitality and new connections. Get your ticket here.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00