Observe Canada Day 2021 by Honouring Lives Lost and Harmed
Today and every day we must pay attention to healing, truth and reconciliation.
The discovery of unmarked graves of indigenous children who attended residential schools in two of many possible locations is a stark reminder that all settlers across Canada must act on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Cowessess First Nation, located about 140 kilometres east of Regina, Saskatchewan used ground-penetrating radar to locate 751 unmarked graves, most of them expected to be children who attended the former Marieval Indian Residential School. It is expected more graves may be found. Children from First Nations in southeast Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba were sent to the school.
Earlier, a similar survey on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia found 215 children’s unmarked graves and here, too, it is expected more will be found.
Chief Cadmus Delorme from Cowessess First Nation calls on Canadians to make time on this Canada Day, July 1, to read two important sets of recommendations that lay out the clear path of action needed in the relationship between Canada and First Nations.
We must work towards reconciliation by following the leads of Indigenous governments, communities and partners. We must honour the memories of lives lost and harmed. This Canada Day, pause and make time to read the recommendations of these reports.
Canada Day, July 2021, make time to read:
1) the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) https://nctr.ca/records/reports/ which details the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system and made 94 calls to action. While the TRC report was released in 2015, Canada has only now, in 2021, passed Bill C-15 https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/declaration/about-apropos.html, An Act Respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This Bill is part of Canada’s commitment to addressing injustices, combating prejudice and eliminating all forms of violence, racism and discrimination, including systemic racism and discrimination, against Indigenous Peoples.
2) recommendations of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/ which reveals that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. The Inquiry calls for transformative legal and social changes to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across the country.
3) Visit the CBC’s Beyond94 posting of stories from residential school survivors and tracking of what action has been taken on the TRCs 94 recommendations up to June 22, 2021.