Loading articles...

Calls to ‘Cancel Canada Day’ reach Edmonton, push to honour Indigenous voices grows

Last Updated Jun 15, 2021 at 3:25 pm MDT

A man stands on the corner of Coldstream Ave. and Veteran's Memorial Parkway on Canada Day in Langford, B.C., on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

EDMONTON (CityNews) — A national movement to cancel Canada Day celebrations to recognize and respect the pain being felt by Indigenous communities has found support in Edmonton.

An Indigenous woman in Alberta’s capital wants the city to scrap its Canada Day celebrations on July 1 with the hopes it will lead to a retrospective acknowledgment of the darker moments of Canadian history.

The push comes following the discovery of what are believed to be the remains of 215 students buried on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C.

“People need to take a step back and acknowledge that this happened in order to move forward as people with the government,” said Michelle Wells, organizer of Cancel Canada Day Edmonton.

“Those children, they went missing and they have no voice and they are unaccounted for. Imagine those families. The trauma they feel. And that’s two or three generations in the past, but it’s still very much alive in the present today.”

Last week, the city council in Victoria voted to scrap the virtual Canada Day celebration.

Wells says cancelling such celebrations can provide an opportunity for the voices of Indigenous people to be heard.

“This is a way bigger issue than just ‘Cancel Canada Day,’” she said.

“Everybody needs to stop and acknowledge that it’s done a lot of damage, the residential schools. They had no right to do that, it was in complete violation of every human right that there is nowadays.

“People can’t deny it. It’s basically genocide to a certain group of people.”

Wells says Canada can only move forward as a country by honouring the lives lost to residential schools — not in celebrating.

She says she will be wearing orange on Canada Day, the colour that has come to represent reconciliation with First Nations people, instead of red and white.

–with files from The Canadian Press