Today, Canada Day, we celebrate the 155th anniversary of Confederation, the forming of the nation that most of us are proud to call home.
We say most, because some of that pride for many Canadians went from muted to non-existent over the last year as we took a hard look in the mirror about who we are, and about our past.
Leading up to Canada Day 2021, we were still waist-deep in the COVID-19 pandemic so it was hard to imagine a huge celebration. Still, it’s summer, events can happen outside, so there were some plans in the works.
And then the “Kamloops 215” happened. Just over a month before July 1, 2021, the remains of 215 children were found in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School using ground-penetrating radar.
Chilliwack joined municipalities across the province in lowering the Canadian flag to half mast. Festivities that were already going to be virtual or smallscale due to the pandemic seemed inappropriate.
As Canadians reflected on our nation’s history of colonialism and indignity to the Indigenous people of this land, many of us suffered the cognitive dissonance as we considered collective shame and national pride.
A year later, many are feeling the same way.
Still, we want to celebrate our nation and our freedom and all our accomplishments. But we need to do it in a more muted way, a more respectful way embracing Indigenous teachings and accepting our history.
A year ago, The Progress talked to UFV Indigenous studies professor Wenona Hall about Canada Day. Hall said that we should take July 1 to educate ourselves about the Truth of Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and review the calls to action meant to deal with the legacy of residential schools.
Lowering the Canadian flags to half mast was a good start, but why not fly the flag of the First Nation whose land the flag is on?
“If we are sincere about reconciliation, Canadians need to take the time to learn what it is that we are trying to reconcile.”
– Black Press Media