By TNV Desk-
July 1 is celebrated as Canada Day as on this day in 1867 a confederation of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the future provinces of Ontario and Quebec were officially recognized by Great Britain as the autonomous Dominion of Canada through the passage of the British North America Act. All these British colonies were joined together to create Canada. Its colonial association with the legacy of exploitation and proselytization made many Indigenous people to never celebrate Canada Day.
As per Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada between late 1800 to 1990, at least 1,50,000 indigenous children were taken from their families to attend these “church run government recognized residential schools”. In the name of assimilating them into the Canadian mainstream they were given new English names, forcibly converted to Christianity, and were prohibited from speaking their native language.
A recent CNN report titled “Pushback against Canada Day celebrations grows after the discoveries of unmarked graves” said, “Canada Day is typically a time of national pride, patriotism and parades. This year, though, many First Nations communities are calling for a halt to celebrations of the holiday, with some planning an observance instead”.
The report quoting Boby Cameron stated, “Celebrating Canada Day is being seen as inconsiderate to all the children’s lives that were lost and we encourage everyone to consider the price these children had to pay at the hands of the Canadian government,” Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said in a June 18 news release.”
It further said, “It’s usually marked with festivities and fireworks across the country, though not everyone sees the day as a reason for celebration. To many First Nations communities, the holiday has long represented the country’s history of colonization and violence against Indigenous people — an issue that has been a subject of national conversation in recent weeks.”
Explaining about the graves and system of boarding schools, the report said, “At least 750 unmarked graves were found earlier this month on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. In May, the remains of 215 children were found buried near the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. The discoveries are a reminder of a dark chapter in Canada’s past: the residential school system. From the late 19th to the late 20th centuries, Indigenous children were separated from their families and forced to attend government-funded, church-run boarding schools in an attempt to assimilate them and wipe out their culture.”
It further said , “Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a report in 2015 detailing decades of physical, sexual and emotional abuse suffered by children in the country’s residential school system. The commission estimated that more than 4,000 died in the institutions, acknowledging that it was impossible to know the true toll”.
It added ,”The recent discovery at Kamloops residential school has reminded us that Canada remains a country that has built its foundation on the erasure and genocide of Indigenous nations, including children,” the Indigenous-led activist group Idle No More says on its website. “We refuse to sit idle while Canada’s violent history is celebrated.” Idle No More is encouraging communities to participate in sit-ins, round dances, ceremonies and other such events on July 1 in protest of the holiday”.
On July 1 celebration the report said, “Demonstrations, vigils and marches are planned in cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal. Cities have halted celebrations. Several local governments across the country have postponed Canada Day festivities this year, while some have called them off altogether. Other leaders are using the occasion to reflect on Canada’s fraught and complicated history.”
The report said, “Earlier this year, Canada designated September 30 as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation to commemorate the history and legacy of the country’s residential school system.”
The recent discovery of unmarked graves of indigenous children at the Roman Catholic church run Indian Residential School in Canada and United States have shocked the world. For Canada’s Indigenous communities specially the residential school survivors and their families it has renewed their emotional trauma.