Canada’s unions say this Canada Day is a time for reconciliation, not celebration

June 30, 2021

In light of the recent discovery of the remains of nearly 1,000 children at former residential schools, this Canada day needs to be about reflection and action. Canada’s unions are calling for July 1st celebrations to be replaced this year with actions in support of reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit people across the country.

“Indigenous people and their communities are still processing the horrifying discovery of mass and unmarked graves at former residential schools,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “This is not a time for celebration; it is a time for reflection and action. Canada’s unions are standing in solidarity with the communities mourning these losses, and we are calling for justice and accountability for the harmful and destructive impact of colonialism, violence and systemic racism.”

The recent findings include the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia and Marieval Indian Residential School on Cowessess First Nation in Southern Saskatchewan. More graves are expected to be uncovered across Canada in the coming months and years.

“We cannot see residential schools as simply a moment in Canada’s history. We know that systemic, state, and interpersonal violence and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in Canada continues today,” said Bruske. “We see it in health and income disparities, in the unsafe drinking water on so many reserves, in the extractive industries that strip the land, and in the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and the families who have been left without answers or justice – to name just a few.”

This July 1st, Canada’s unions are urging their members to reflect not only on the devastation and harmful impact of residential schools, but also on our individual and collective responsibility to raise awareness about colonization and to dismantle the systems that continue to perpetuate harm and injustice.

“Today, and every day, we must support Indigenous peoples in this country, act in solidarity, and work towards reconciliation. We all have a role to play. This includes all levels of government, communities, families, individuals, and the labour movement,” said Bruske.

Send a letter to your elected representatives letting them know that you expect to see real commitments and concrete action for justice for Indigenous people and communities.

Other actions you can take:

• Wear orange to show your support for Indigenous communities and those impacted by residential schools (Learn about Phyllis (Jack) Webstad and the original orange shirt)
• Participate in an Indigenous-led vigil, march, or event on July 1st (Example: events in Montreal, Ottawa, or find a list of events by town/city here)
• Support Indigenous organizations, causes, and businesses (Example: donate to the Indian Residential Schools Survivor Society, Legacy of Hope Foundation or other Indigenous-led organizations)
• Learn about residential schools and colonialism in Canada and in your own community:


• Engage in conversation and reflection on genocide, colonialism, white supremacy, and violence against Indigenous people.

Learn to be a better ally

• Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and its 94 Calls to Action:
• Read the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and its 231 Calls for Justice:

Access support services

Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line

Crisis Services Canada
Text: 45645

Hope for Wellness Helpline

Kids Help Phone
Text: 686868


Related Articles

CLC Statement on the fatal crane collapse in Kelowna, BC

Today we learned that five people lost their lives, and more were injured due to the tragic crane collapse in Kelowna, BC. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) extends its deepest condolences to the families, coworkers and friends of those people who didn’t return from work, as well as to those who suffered injuries and trauma as a result of this…
Read More

Job numbers show pandemic’s hardest hit continue to struggle most

Canada’s unions are raising the alarm that hundreds of thousands of workers are facing cutbacks to pandemic supports, while the job market remains far from recovery. “Our biggest concern is those workers who are at risk of dropping out of the labour market altogether. “Many workers are just giving up because they can’t find work, or because a lack of…
Read More

Open Letter to the Working People of Canada

Friends and Allies, A few short weeks ago, I was truly honoured to be elected to serve the working people of Canada as president of the Canadian Labour Congress. My fellow officers and I do not take this responsibility lightly – and it is not a job anyone can do alone. We are counting on you for your support ……
Read More