Shomporko Online News Desk: This year’s Canada Day address from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a different tone, as the country deals with the discovery of over 1,100 unmarked graves across three former residential school sites in Canada.
Trudeau recognized in the statement that July 1 is “not yet a day of celebration” for others.
“The shocking discovery of hundreds of children’s remains at former residential school sites in British Columbia and Saskatchewan has rightfully prompted us to reflect on our country’s historical failures, as well as the injustices that continue to exist for Indigenous peoples and others in Canada,” Trudeau said.
“We as Canadians must be honest with ourselves about our past.”
Last week, Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan said that a ground-penetrating radar detected an estimated 751 unmarked graves at the site where the Marieval Indian Residential School once sat. The news came not long after the remains of 215 children were found at another former residential school site in Kamloops.
Just one day before Canada was set to celebrate its national pride on July 1, the Lower Kootenay Band said a search using the same ground-penetrating radar technology found 182 human remains in unmarked graves near a former residential school site in Cranbrook, B.C.
As communities and families reel from the news, some advocates have called on Canadians to hold off on the fireworks and fanfare for Canada Day this year.
“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,” read a post on Indigenous rights group Idle No More’s website.
“We refuse to sit idle while Canada’s violent history is celebrated.”
The government has faced questions about whether Canada’s government-run celebrations should still take place, given the dark discoveries that marked recent days and weeks.
Canadian Heritage is still holding its virtual Canada Day events, including an online concert featuring French, English and Indigenous musicians. However, as those events kick-off, the flag on the Peace Tower in Ottawa will sit at half-mast in recognition of the Indigenous children who died in residential schools across the country.
Trudeau has said he plans to spend the day celebrating with his family. His agenda also lists a closed-door meeting today with Phyllis Webstad, who is the founder of Orange Shirt Day — a national day of remembrance for victims of the residential school system.
In his Thursday statement, the prime minister also highlighted Canada’s accomplishments in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has altered our daily life, given us difficult lessons, and caused us to become estranged. But, in the face of adversity and disaster, Canadians stood by each other. “We all made personal sacrifices — young and old — to help keep our communities safe and healthy,” he said.
“For our front-line health-care employees, we put placards in our windows and banged pots and pans. We ordered takeout and shopped at little stores in our neighborhood. And as soon as vaccines became available, we rushed to get our shots so that our communities could return to normal.”
Source_ The Star