Over 1,000 corpses discovered in indigenous schools have overshadowed Canada Day.
Several Canadian localities have canceled their customary Canada Day celebrations, which normally include fireworks and barbecues. On social media, the hashtag #CancelCanadaDay was trending.
More than 1,000 unmarked graves in old boarding schools for indigenous children were discovered near Canada’s national holiday on Thursday, prompting a somber reckoning with the country’s colonial past.
Several Canadian localities have canceled their customary Canada Day celebrations, which normally include fireworks and barbecues. On social media, the hashtag #CancelCanadaDay trended, and protests in favor of the indigenous population were organized around the country.
One day after 182 unmarked graves were discovered outside a former boarding school in British Columbia where indigenous children were forcefully assimilated, the 154th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation was commemorated.
The find was the latest in a sequence that has horrified the country, with 751 identical burials discovered near a school in Marieval, Saskatchewan, last week, and 215 found near a school in Kamloops, British Columbia, at the end of May.
Until the 1990s, 150,000 indigenous, Inuit, and Metis children were forced to attend the 139 schools, where they were physically and sexually tortured by headmasters and instructors who deprived them of their culture and language.
According to a panel of inquiry that determined Canada had committed “cultural genocide,” more than 4,000 people perished in schools as a result of sickness and negligence.
In a statement released Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, “The tragic findings… have properly forced us to reflect on our country’s past failings and the injustices that still persist for Indigenous peoples and many others in Canada.”
“We must be honest with ourselves about our history as Canadians,” he added. Days after the finding in Kamloops, the municipal council of Victoria, British Columbia’s capital, unanimously decided to cancel their scheduled virtual festivities.
Early Thursday in Toronto, protestors marched in support of indigenous communities, many holding banners with messages such as “No pride in genocide.”
“I’ve come because I have young children and I believe it’s essential to send the message that we don’t want our children to be harmed or mistreated,” one emotional woman said. Therese Dube, 56, is an Akikamekw indigenous woman who was a survivor of one of Quebec’s residential schools.
April Courtney Kipling, an indigenous lady of 29 years, came “to remember, to honor all the children who will never go home.” Others have a more specific motive for attending.
Olivia Lya, a 22-year-old Innu woman, stated, “Canada Day is like celebrating genocide.” “On July 1, anyone praising Canada is celebrating injustice,” said Nakuset, co-founder of the Montreal Native Women’s Shelter.