Calls to cancel Canada Day celebrations grow as Indigenous communities grieve mass grave discoveries
MONTREAL -- As Canada Day approaches, there are growing calls to cancel celebrations following the discovery of multiple mass graves containing the remains of residential school victims.
Already, there are plans for marches across the country and flags will be flown at half mast.
“It really resonates with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, about all these children that were found buried in these mass graves,” said Nakuset, director of the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal and organizer of the city's march. “It was hidden and supposed to be kept secret. I think it almost comes in waves where you hear about what happened in Kamloops. You're devastated and you grieve and start to move forward and then it's the next wave.”
The Montreal march will start at Jeanne-Mance Park at 2 p.m. and already, thousands have announced their intention to attend. The path will lead to Place du Canada, where until recently a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald stood. The likeness of Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister and an architect of the residential school system that saw Indigenous children stolen away from their families, was toppled by protesters in August.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada Day this year should be a day of reflection, rather than fireworks. But on Tourism Montreal's website, fireworks in the Old Port are still on the agenda for July 1.