Movement to cancel Canada Day aims to shed light on injustices
Indigenous activists and others who have started a movement to cancel Canada Day say they are looking to use the day to shed light on injustices.
Jean Becker, a senior director of Indigenous initiatives at the University of Waterloo, says the concept of recognizing July 1 as a day of mourning instead of celebration, dates back to the day after confederation.
“The establishment of Canada wasn't a win-win situation there,” she said. “It was a quite a loss for indigenous people.”
Indigenous advocacy group 'Idle No More' posted on its website, "we will not celebrate stolen indigenous land and stolen indigenous lives."
They have listed a number of events around the country in solidarity, including two in Ontario.
The Land Back Camp in Kitchener’s Victoria Park observed July 1 as a day of mourning.
In Hamilton, a peaceful vigil was held to acknowledge missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two spirits.
“The sense is, that Indigenous people actually, are not included in Canada at all," said Becker.
She adds that the significance of July 1 varies as diversely as Indigenous groups themselves, but that it is important to recognize Canada’s full history.
“People are always saying why don't you get over it? Why don't you just forget all that stuff and join in and be Canadian and have a good time?" said Becker. “Well the truth is, all of that stuff is still going on today, and that's the part that we need to talk about and we need to acknowledge."
University of Guelph Canadian history professor Matthew Hayday says various indigenous groups have not been alone in not celebrating Canada day.
“There were stark objections from members of parliament from Nova Scotia who said that, in fact, Dominion Day should be a day of lamentation because of how their province had been forced into confederation against its will," he said.
Hayday adds that, in more recent history, Chinese communities in Canada organized "Humiliation Day" events to reflect on racism of Canada's Chinese Exclusion Act.
"There's all sorts of communities in Canada that aren't entirely happy with how the federation operates," he said."They take advantage of July 1 to voice those opinions."
Becker says there's more education being provided in partnership and consultation with Indigenous scholars, but there is still a lot of work to be done.