On July 1, 1867, the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia formally merged to form the union historically known as the Dominion of Canada. Between the years 1870 and 1949, six more provinces federated.

On the morning of June 11, 2008, a special closed ceremony to honour and remember the residents of the former Shubenacadie Residential School took place in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. A native flag of the Warrior Society marked the location of the school.

Canada Day Muted As Nation Reckons With Residential School ...

On Wednesday afternoon, the government of Canada will publicly apologise to indigenous people for the mistreatment they endured at residential schools across the country. Photos by Mike Dembeck, AP and CP.

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Canada Day

This year’s Canada Day festivities are more difficult than usual. In light of the recent discoveries of hundreds of indigenous children’s deaths in unmarked graves at former Indian Residential Schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, many individuals are choosing not to celebrate at all or to celebrate in a different way.

In Kamloops, British Columbia, 215 remains were found on May 27 at the site of a former residential school. There were 751 bodies recovered at the former Marieval Residential School in Saskatchewan on June 23, and 182 dead were announced to have been unearthed by a First Nation near Cranbrook, British Columbia on June 30.

The use of residential schools in Canada began in the 1880s and continued into the 1990s. In addition to imparting knowledge, their primary goal was to integrate the native population into the white community.

Four Thousand Kids Vanished From Residential Schools.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates that 150,000 children were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to boarding institutions hundreds of miles away. The federal government provided funding for residential schools, but the Roman Catholic, Anglican (Episcopal), Presbyterian, and United Churches ran the institutions.

Students were subjected to physical and sexual abuse, and some of them even died under strange circumstances, leaving a legacy of trauma for victims and their families. About four thousand kids vanished from residential schools.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologised to indigenous people in 2008 for the harm done by residential schools. Pope Francis is under increasing pressure to apologise on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church following the recent discoveries of human remains over the past five weeks. A meeting between the Pope and indigenous leaders to discuss an apology is scheduled for December, CBC Radio reported on June 30.

Many cities and towns have cancelled official Canada Day celebrations because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Celebrations in several Eastern Ontario cities, including Cornwall and Perth, were called off due to the flu outbreak. Fireworks were cancelled in Kingston because to pandemic concerns, but a modest outdoor market and activities for children nevertheless went place as planned.

Government-Sponsored Celebration

A government-sponsored celebration planned for Ottawa will go on, albeit virtually and on television. Due of the epidemic, the celebrations on Parliament Hill have been cancelled.

However, because of the ongoing crisis surrounding residential schools, the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau has opted to cancel its Canada Day celebrations this year. The 1st of July will see anti-Canada Day protests on Parliament Hill.

Nonetheless, some areas have chosen to not celebrate Canada Day at all out of respect for indigenous peoples and their concerns. The change in tone is in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call for Canadians to focus on introspection rather than celebration this year. Striking that social and political middle ground is difficult. Erin O’Toole, head of the conservative opposition, has argued that Canada Day should not be postponed.

Fredericton, New Brunswick, and Victoria, British Columbia, two provincial capitals, called off their Canada Day festivities.

On Thursday night, between Ottawa and Montreal, in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, a virtual festival of entertainment will take place. A poetry recital featuring two local poets, one indigenous and one non-indigenous, was added to the programme on June 29 to pay respect and sympathy to the victims of residential schools.

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Last Words

Other communities’ judgments have been affected by indigenous peoples’ rights to their own identities. The council of the Municipality of South Dundas, which encompasses the Ontario communities of Iroquois and Morrisburg and which borders the St. Lawrence River, recently made the decision to remove the indigenous insignia off the water tank in Iroquois before it is repainted.

The logo of the now-defunct Village of Iroquois featured a depiction of a Plains Indian that is not representative of the Iroquois people as a whole. Instead of displaying “South Dundas,” the words “Iroquois” will be added to the water tank’s label.