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OPINION: Local high school correspondent explores recent #CancelCanadaDay debate

'Please think about why #CancelCanadaDay was trending and to continue to further educate yourself on social justice issues such as this one,' says Rebekah McKinnon
2021-04-10 Canada flag RB 4
Canada flag.

What is #CancelCanadaDay All About?

Recently, a new hashtag has been floating around social media platforms about cancelling Canada Day this year due to the recent discoveries of children's bodies at residential school sites in western Canada.

Jillian Smith, a local Indigenous student at St. Theresa’s, provided me with her opinion to the following question: Do you think that Canada Day should have been cancelled due to the recent discoveries?

"Yes I do, what happened was disgusting and Canada Day shouldn’t have even been a thing in the first place. Why have a day celebrating the nation and its “people” if it’s people have been treated terribly. It’s nothing to celebrate.”

Do you believe that the church offering an apology would be enough to reconcile with the Indigenous communities? If not, what type of actions should be pursued?

“No, there needs to be more done. They took away 1,323 lives of children, and counting. Words won’t heal these kinds of wounds. They tried to also take our culture away. Proper actions should be taken, bringing water to First Nations communities who desperately need it. Some communities haven’t had clean water in more than a decade.

"Our voices should be lifted as well, people should listen to us when we speak about our issues. We also would like to receive proper health care, a lot of us are denied that in some places and to stop being treated so unfairly because of our skin. Just because we look different and have a different culture doesn’t mean we should be treated like aliens.

"History books for schools should also be rewritten as they are filled with loads of inaccurate information about my people and the past. We need to be treated fairly and Canada has to recognize what they’ve done to us.”

Finally, do you believe that Canada Day should become a day of mourning for all residential school victims both past and those who suffer in the present? Or should Canada focus on Indigenous creators, musicians, demonstrators, etc. in order to celebrate their achievements?

“Well an Indigenous People’s Day already exists, and that’s meant to celebrate our people in general. But we don’t get enough media attention on that day. So I believe it should be used as a day for mourning or at least to educate the uneducated on who we are and what happened to the children and our people.”

As you can see, Jillian provides a great insight to how we as allies to the community, can show our support respectfully.

She wants to encourage equality and promote her people so that we can understand how she and others have been affected for years.

As a final thought, she offered: “My only comment would be to listen to Indigenous voices and not speak on our behalf, but sharing what we have to say instead.”

Please think about why #CancelCanadaDay was trending and to continue to further educate yourself on social justice issues such as this one.