On May 27, 2021, the remains of over 200 children were discovered on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation Indian Residential School grounds, situated in Kamloops, BC. Over a year later, that number has risen: the remains of between 5,000 and 10,000+ Indigenous children have been reported in unmarked graves across so-called “Canada.” If we reflect on the ongoing discovery of these unmarked graves, the broken promises of reconciliation from the Canadian government, and the whitewashing of Canada’s history (ie. the near erasure of any mention of the enslavement of Black and Indigenous folks, as well as racist practices such as the Chinese Head Tax, just to name a few), it’s not surprising that many organizations are opting out of celebrating Canada Day.
At Bloom, rather than recognizing Canada Day, we’re choosing to pause our celebrations to focus on reconciliation, and we encourage other organizations to do the same. For some, Canada Day is for pride and patriotism. But this begs the question: What could be more patriotic than making this a better country for all? If your organization has decided to join us in pausing Canada Day festivities and you’re looking for alternative ways to acknowledge July 1st, here are a few suggestions:
- Instead of celebrating Canada Day, celebrate and centre Indigenous voices. To ensure you’re doing this with intention, it may be worth considering:
- What decolonization work has your organization engaged in to prepare for this? Do you know how to honour Indigenous stories and experiences with integrity and consent?
- Is your organization committed to listening to Indigenous voices all year long? What actions is your organization engaging in to avoid performative allyship?
- If your organization is discussing the impact of the residential school system, please provide a link to The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line for IRSS survivors and their families to access support.
- Encourage team members to learn more about the land they’re on and to research accurate land acknowledgements for where they live. (Tip: You can level up your land acknowledgment by sharing specific languages and treaties tied to your territory or region.)
- If your organization participates in Orange T-Shirt Day, or you choose to wear an orange shirt on July 1st in solidarity with Indigenous folks, be sure buy an orange shirt from an Indigenous business, not a big box store. Support local Indigenous businesses!
- The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is just around the corner, so prepare in advance. Avoid being reactionary and refer to the TRC Calls to Action for best practices to help ground you in your reconciliation efforts. If you’re looking for some additional support, our article here can serve as a guide.
- Lastly: Ask yourself, what decolonization work has your organization engaged in? If the answer is not much, start today.
And for those who choose to celebrate Canada Day, we hope you dedicate the time to recognizing the land you’re on and acknowledging the work this country still has to do to be “True North Strong and Free” — which means free for everyone.