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: http://trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf
• Read the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and its 231 Calls for Justice: https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/
Access support services
Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line
Crisis Services Canada
Hope for Wellness Helpline
Kids Help Phone