The recent national spotlight on residential schools across the country has put Canada Day 2021 in a problematic spot with just weeks left before the calendar turns to July 1.
The discovery of the remains of 215 children buried on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School has brought up the discussion around rethinking Canada Day.
A number of Indigenous communities have released statements saying that they won’t celebrate Canada Day this year.
On Twitter, the hashtag #CancelCanadaDay quickly gained traction after the Kamloops discovery and was trending for multiple days in Canada.
While the conversation may be more mainstream this year, many Indigenous voices have been calling on Canadian officials to rethink Canada Day for years.
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.
Victoria made the decision June 10, to cancel Canada Day celebrations in the province’s capital, opting instead to use the planned hour-long broadcast July 1 as a reconciliation-focused educational opportunity.
A statement from the City of Victoria says council voted to scrap the virtual celebration following the discovery of the remains of 215 students buried on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
“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.
“One thing we can do is small acts of reconciliation. We can rethink what we do with our own resources and our own protocols for Canada Day. We don’t have the power to cancel Canada Day, but we do have the ability to readjust our programming to reflect the difficult times,” Helps said.
There has been no official announcement regarding Canada Day from the City of Penticton as of time of publication.
Last year, the city celebrated Canada Day virtually amid the pandemic.
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