Earlier in the month, the City of Victoria made the decision to not stage any Canada Day festivities this year, as details about Canada’s history of residential schools continue to be unearthed.
“The more we reflect, the more we understand that holding the usual Canada Day celebrations could be damaging to the city’s and the community’s reconciliation efforts,” wrote Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Coun. Marianne Alto in a motion brought forward during council’s committee-of-the-whole meeting on June 10.
In May, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were revealed to be buried in an unmarked grave located on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Last week, the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in Manitoba identified 104 potential graves buried at the Brandon Indian Residential School.
With new information being revealed about Canada’s residential school system and its disturbing implications, old wounds are reopening and calls are mounting across the country for cities and towns to follow in Victoria’s footsteps.
On Twitter, you can find an endless stream of tweets that include the hashtag #CancelCanadaDay on the social media platform, with people condemning Canada’s past and sharing their support for Indigenous peoples.
For many, not celebrating Canada’s birthday is to take a stand with Indigenous people and somberly reflect on the hundreds of years’ worth of atrocities committed against them at the hands of the government.
Last year, Indigenous group Idle No More started their own Cancel Canada Day movement, and are doing so again this year at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
“We will not celebrate the ongoing genocide within Canada against Indigenous people. Instead, we will gather to honour all of the lives lost to the Canadian state, including the many lives lost to residential schools,” reads a statement on their Facebook page.
With the earliest start date for phase three of the province’s restart plan falling on July 1, the pressure is on for elected officials to make the call on whether to do their part in the reconciliation process with Indigenous people or to allow people to celebrate a milestone in the fleeting pandemic on Canada’s birthday.
And while no decision has been made by the City of Kelowna to host Canada Day celebrations or not, we’re asking readers how they think the city should proceed with the festivities.
— With files from Jesse Day and Don Descoteau