This past week at least 751 more children and then 182 more were found on the property of residential schools in Canada- dumped in unmarked graves, lost to a system that should have protected them (or at least not killed them and disposed of their remains like trash). I wrote about these schools in a previous post, they were government funded (part of the “Indian Act” which was legislation about controlling and erasing indigenous culture, see the graphic below) and church run boarding schools for indigenous children in our country. Many of the families who lost children to these schools were never told what happened, never informed where their child was buried. The list of abuses connected to these schools is enormous.
July 1st is Canada Day here, usually a celebration of our country with fireworks and a federal holiday. There’s a lot of fuss about whether we should celebrate it nationally this year (or at all)- we shouldn’t.
If we claim to be an inclusive and kind nation we can’t just gloss over hundreds of dead children or the impact these losses have had on our country, how pretending this history didn’t happen just dooms us to perpetuate it and insults the real harm these schools did. Celebrating the holiday this year is an insult to our indigenous population, like throwing a big party while your neighbors hold a funeral to mourn their child.
Many provinces and cities have already stepped forward and cancelled their celebrations in solidarity with Canada’s indigenous population. The prime minister even stated it should be used as a day of “reflection” this year. I think it says more about us as a nation if we choose not to celebrate Canada Day and instead work to make right this awfulness, to stand with those impacted by these cruel policies, to face the racism that is present in our nation.
Here at the ‘Cult we won’t be celebrating Canada Day, for what that’s worth. As “just a clothing company” it feels like there’s only so much difference a tiny blog post or facebook status can make, but I do think it’s important to share and embody your politics whenever possible. As a person I urge you to read about Canada’s history with racism and the “Indian Act”, learn about what we did so that we never do it again. For our non-Canadian audience please know these policies weren’t unique to our nation, most colonized countries enacted similar methods to silence their indigenous populations and echoes of that racism exist in modern policy (not that that excuses or diminishes what Canada did- it absolutely does not) and I urge you to research your own nation’s history. It’s not the “distant past”, survivors of the residential schools are still alive, the impact of this deliberate genocide is still visible in our communities.
It’s time our nation healed, it’s time we face the pain we have caused.
More reading suggestions and graphics sources: