Hundreds of people have gathered in Dartmouth and Halifax for a memorial to Indigenous children who have gone missing or died while attending residential schools. Instead of celebrating Canada Day, this time the visitors have gathered to mourn. Chants of “do the right thing”, aimed at the government, echoed around Peace and Friendship Park.
Organizer Caitlyn Moore said that the goal of this gathering is to commemorate the children who died at residential schools.
“The genocidal tactics of the Canadian government did not end with the closure of these schools. Birth alerts, foster care, forced sterilization, forced abortions and missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals are just a few of the issues still very much alive today.”
Jarvis Googoo has always celebrated Canada Day, but this year, he is going to skip the festivities.
“My favourite [Canada Day event] was always the Epic Canadian Race that would take place around Lake Banook in Dartmouth. I’m a proud Mi’kmaw person who was proud to run in a race that celebrates what’s good about Canada, but at the same time, we’re not going to ignore the bad, and I want that to be addressed.”
Googoo added that he wants to see Canada Day celebrated next year, but first, reconciliation must happen.
In some communities, the Canada Day celebration was cancelled due to recent events that have shaken the nation to the core. Cheryl Copage-Gehue, the Indigenous adviser for Halifax Regional Municipality, commented:
“[The chiefs] are not about to cancel culture, but they were more about creating opportunities for Indigenous history to be learned. If we’re going to be celebrating Canada Day, let’s celebrate the Indigenous portion of it as well. So let’s create our opportunities for next Canada Day to have maybe a cultural gathering at Peace and Friendship Park, where the average citizen can come in and learn more about our dance styles, our music, our cultural practices, our traditional games like waltes.”