In the light of recent discoveries in Canada’s indigenous residential schools, thousands of protestors gathered around Parliament Hill to call for “Cancel Canada Day”. They were shouting words like “Shame on Canada”, “Bring them home”, and “No pride on genocide” in solidarity with the victims. As a refresher for memory, mass graves are currently being found where former residential schools assimilated indigenous community.
Many Canadians and First Nations communities have organized multiple memorials and protests to honor the children who became victims of the abuse at the church-run residential schools in the past. Disregarding the fact that it was country’s national day, Canadian protestors toppled the statues of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria to express their pain regarding the treatment of indigenous people throughout history.
Who organized the “Cancel Canada Day” Protest?
According to the reports, 2 movements; the Anishinabek Nation and Idle No More organized the Cancel Canada Day protest as a way to remember dead. They said that they will not join the celebration of ongoing genocide with the rest of the country. They preferred to gather in respect of the lives that were lost because of Canadian state and its residential schools.
As it can be seen from the video, most protestors were wearing orange shirts for the occasion. These shirts became a symbol of protest after one survivor of residential school, Phyllis Jack Webstad provided testimony. The survivor told how she was forced to remove the new orange shirt, which her grandmother gifted her on the first day at a residential school.
What is Canada Doing on National Day?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also acknowledged that July 1 was not yet a celebration day for many Canadians. After the discovery of last month’s 215 remains of children, more than 750 unmarked graves were found in another residential school run by church. And, just a day before Canada Day, further 180 graves were found near a former school.
All celebratory events of the day have been cancelled in many cities for the second year in a row. The first time it was last year due to coronavirus restrictions. This year Canadians are choosing themselves to use the national day to practice self-reflection and recognition of Indigenous genocide on national level. The Canadian flag also flew at half-mast across the country in recognition of the horrible discovery.
What Were Residential Schools Doing?
The old residential school system separated children from their family’s influence and erased their culture to assimilate them according to modern society’s standards. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) estimated that more than 150,000 children attended these schools between the 1830s to 1996. Data reveals painful facts that the students of these schools died or vanished at a far greater rate than the entire country. Their deaths were not even recorded. However, TRC estimated in 2015, that at least 6,000 children died in Canada’s residential schools. Since that time the commission has helped record 4,100 names of the victims, which are expected to grow. Some reports claim that as many as 10,000 children could have died there.