This Canada Day will be very different, as the pandemic continues to shape our daily lives and Canadians grapple with the country’s relationship with Indigenous people.
As people continue to distance themselves in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, Canada Day celebrations on July 1 are likely to be quieter and more modest. Many Canadian provinces are still in the process of reopening and have put in place restrictions. As a result, traditional large gatherings, outdoor concerts, parades, sporting events, and historical re-enactments have shifted to virtual formats.
Despite the current challenges, Canada is celebrating its 154th anniversary, highlighting Canadian values of inclusion and diversity while celebrating its unique identity and cultural richness.
On Parliament Hill, Canada Day celebrations usually feature a daytime show and a major evening show. The in-person Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa have been cancelled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic, as well as the need to rethink Canada’s own foundation.
In commemoration of Canada Day
Readers should be aware that this section contains information that may be upsetting. Those in need of emotional support can call the Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This year’s Canada Day comes on the heels of the discovery of over a thousand unmarked graves of Indigenous children who died in residential schools. As a result, there is a national debate about whether it should be commemorated at all.
Between 1831 and 1996, white European settlers ran and supported residential schools. In 1867, Canada became a country. Before colonisation, indigenous peoples lived on this territory for tens of thousands of years. They have their own countries, cultures, and languages.
Residential schools were designed to help Indigenous people integrate into a Euro-centric society. The Canadian government financed these institutions, which were mostly run by the Catholic church. Indigenous children were separated from their families, subjected to cruelty, and tens of thousands died in the camps or while attempting to return home.
The remains of 215 children were discovered at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, in late May. Since then, more children have been discovered: 751 in Marieval, Saskatchewan; 104 in Brandon, Manitoba; 38 in Regina, Saskatchewan; 35 in Lestock, Saskatchewan; and 182 unmarked graves were discovered in Cranbrook, British Columbia, yesterday.
Indigenous peoples and allies across Turtle Island, now known as North America, are appealing for justice for the children who died in residential schools.
The federal government’s Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement lists 139 residential schools in Canada alone. As the search for residential school grounds continues, there will almost certainly be many more finds.
Residential Schools are a type of institution that teaches
Residential schools were religious schools run by the government with the goal of assimilating Indigenous students into Euro-Canadian culture. Even though the first…
The proposal to reschedule Canada Day
For Indigenous peoples and immigrants alike, Canada Day has a long history of controversy. It is viewed by many Indigenous peoples as a celebration of genocide. Following the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act, which barred most Chinese immigrants from entering Canada, the first of July is also known as “Humiliation Day” by Chinese Canadians.
Indigenous leaders are calling for Canada Day to be observed as a day of grief this year. According to Indigenous activist Pamela Palmater, doing so would be “a step toward peace.” According to Indigenous protest group Idle No More, at least 50 communities throughout the country have cancelled their Canada Day celebrations this year. There are also plans for peaceful protests in 15 towns to remember those who have died at the hands of the Canadian government, especially migrants.
In a press statement, Idle No More co-founder Sylvia McAdam writes,
“Canceling Canada Day is the bare minimum recognition of the ongoing colonisation and genocide done against Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island.” “The genocide perpetrated by so-called residential’schools’ never came to an end. It continues today, and we will raise our voices for [Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People], child welfare, birth alerts, forced sterilisation, police/RCMP brutality, and all other injustices we face across these lands.”
The campaign has sparked debate in politics and among Canadians about how to mark Canada Day in the midst of a period of reckoning. According to a recent Leger poll, the majority of Canadians oppose the cancellation of Canada Day. Around three-quarters of Canadians believe it is best not to cancel Canada Day this year, 14% believe it is better to cancel it, and 10% are undecided.
Canada Day, according to Canadian politicians Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh, should be a day of reflection. Erin O’Toole has stated that he does not want the festivities to be cancelled.
Canada Day is not cancelled, despite the fact that some municipalities and citizens have chosen to abandon their activities. The federal government is continuing its Canada Day celebrations, which include performances by a wide range of Canadians, including Indigenous performers. Canadian Heritage urges people to commemorate the day by creating memorable experiences at home, according to a press release.
The major programme for Canada Day in 2021 will be streamed live online and will feature acts from around the country, as is customary. The two-hour programme, which will include Canadian musicians, will go from province to province and territory. National television networks and YouTube will stream the event.
This year, some cities around the country have stated that they will stage traditional Canada Day fireworks displays, which are a popular fixture in many communities. Some cities have developed ways to allow residents to participate in the festivities in person by extending them out over several days, while others have organised house-decorating competitions and a smaller-scale variety of outdoor events at a social distance.
Many people will be wearing orange instead of red and white, which represents the residential school experience and Indigenous resilience. It is also an opportunity for global citizens to demonstrate their commitment to the continuing reconciliation process.