On 2021 Canada Day, demonstrators hit streets to observe Indigenous peoples' right
Ottawa/IBNS: Demonstrators donned orange, took to streets, built memorials on 2021 Canada Day as part of a national reckoning with the horrific legacy of residential schools on Indigenous peoples.
After the discovery of what appeared to be human remains at residential school sites in British Columbia and Saskatchewan during the last two months, many of the special events normally associated with Canada Day were either canceled or scaled back.
The horrific discoveries of the unmarked graves of children at the site of former residential schools have "rightfully pressed us to reflect on our country's historical failures," said Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his 2021 Canada Day message.
"While we can't change the past, we must be resolute in confronting these truths in order to chart a new and better path forward. Together, we have a long way to go to make things right with Indigenous Peoples," said Trudeau, who spent his day with his family.
In honor of the Indigenous children who died in residential schools, the flag atop the Peace Tower was at half-mast and Toronto's iconic CN Tower was also lighted orange on Canada Day.
While marchers in Montreal held banners that read "bring our children home," those in Edmonton and elsewhere had shirts that read "Every Child Matters," and a group of 15 in downtown Halifax, read from the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about the history and legacy of residential schools, and actions that could move reconciliation forward.
In his Canada Day message, Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations called for transformational change in the lives of Indigenous Peoples, justice for residential school survivors, clean drinking water, and healthy homes for Indigenous communities.
"There is an opportunity for all levels of government to act on First Nations' priorities," Bellegarde said in a video message. "There is a strong foundation for continued progress, but there remains much more work ahead of all of us. We cannot lose the momentum."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)