In the days leading up to Canada Day, Indigenous community leaders and advocates have urged people to cancel any celebrations. Instead, they are asking for the day to be one to reflect on the real history of Canada and to support Indigenous people.
Several Canadian cities have scrapped their Canada Day celebrations in response to the recent discoveries of 215 Indigenous children’s remains at Kamloops Indian Residential School in the province of British Columbia (BC) and as many as 751 unmarked graves at Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.
Canada’s residential school system operated from the late 1800s until the 1990s. It was part of a wider colonial project that aimed to take over Indigenous lands and forcibly assimilate First Nation, Métis and Inuit children into mainstream Canadian society. Various churches, including most notably the Roman Catholic Church, ran at least 139 residential schools across Canada.
Indigenous people across Canada, particularly residential school survivors and their families, have experienced renewed trauma since the unmarked graves were discovered, while years-long calls for real accountability and justice from Ottawa and the Catholic Church have grown louder.
As First Nations mourn and considering the challenging moment we are in as a Canadian nation following the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former Residential School. Let us take a minute today and educate ourselves on The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Call to Action.