Why we’re not celebrating ‘Canada Day’

July 1, 2021

Content warning: this blog contains details about residential schools and colonial violence. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society crisis line is available 24/7 at 1-800-721-0066

Stand.earth is not celebrating ‘Canada Day’, and this is why.

Six years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its Calls to Action, the culmination of lengthy work collecting accounts and information about Canada’s genocidal residential schools. In recent days and weeks, the horror and scale of these atrocities has been made sharply apparent with the uncovering of mass and unmarked graves in Tk’emlúps (Kamloops, B.C.) and quickly extending across the country.

This is the reality of the country we call “Canada.” It’s a reminder that we live in a country that was violently built on stolen land, and continues to perpetuate ongoing genocides against Indigenous peoples.

Our hearts are heavy thinking of all Indigenous Nations and communities, and each of these children and their families. They are more than statistics, and we owe them more than sympathy and words.

As part of confronting Canada’s colonial history and ongoing genocide in the present day, we invite you to join us and mark July 1st not in celebration, but in mourning, reflection, and action.

Here are some actions you can take today:

Canada’s residential school system is not a thing of the distant past. The last school closed as recently as 1997, during most of our lifetimes. Today, Indigenous children are still vastly overrepresented in the state’s child welfare system, which experts say replaced residential schools.

At the same time, Indigenous peoples are still being forced off their lands to make way for resource extraction. Indigenous Nations and communities in Canada are also disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution, lack of access to basic rights like healthcare and clean drinking water, overrepresented in the criminal justice system – and the list goes on. It is clear that Canada’s genocidal policies persist to this day, and as politicians spin meaningless platitudes in the face of ongoing atrocities, it is our job to stand up and demand change – not sit back and enjoy fireworks.

These issues are not limited to the lands north of the colonial border. Boarding schools that operated in the U.S. are known for these crimes as well, and as more information is brought into the spotlight, we are reminded that the work to confront and tear down colonial systems of oppression extends across this continent.

Those of us who are settlers on these occupied Indigenous lands have an individual and collective responsibility to dismantle systems of white supremacy and colonialism — today and everyday. At Stand.earth we invite our community to join us in this essential and difficult work.

There is no pride in genocide.

Today is not a day to celebrate.