Warning: The following report contains descriptions of genocide and violence committed against Indigenous children and communities. If you require support, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line can be reached 24 hours a day by calling 1-866-925-4419.
Yellowknife’s Canada Day parade has been cancelled following discoveries of more and more Indigenous children’s bodies at former residential school sites across the country, changing the meaning of the July 1 holiday for many people living in Canada.
The Rotary Club, which organizes the parade each year, said holding the event would fail the Rotary’s four-way test, which guides the Rotary’s decisions by asking if something is true, fair, beneficial, and if it will build goodwill and better friendships.
“It was decided that holding a parade this year would not meet the test,” said the club in a news release on Saturday afternoon.
“When we started planning this year’s parade many months ago, our primary concern was COVID-19. But the tragic discovery of unmarked graves in recent weeks at former residential schools in BC and Saskatchewan has changed the meaning of July 1 this year for many,” president Wayne Guy was quoted as saying.
Most recently on Thursday, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan estimated 751 unmarked graves were found at the site of the Marieval residential school. Hundreds more bodies have also been found at similar sites across Canada.
Ceremony to honour lives lost being planned
In a joint news release, the City of Yellowknife and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation said on July 1 they will be honouring Indigenous Peoples with a prayer, drum dance, speeches, and feeding of the fire ceremony in Somba K’e Civic Plaza in downtown Yellowknife.
Yellowknives Dene Chief Edward Sangris said the day should be spending honouring the lives lost and rebuilding relationships.
“Our own selves need to learn how to live harmoniously with each other to move forward and to remember this dark history in our past and ensure this never repeats itself,” he was quoted as saying.
“This year, on July 1, 2021, we invite residents to come together as a community to honour Indigenous Peoples, acknowledge the past, and commit to working together towards reconciliation,” said Mayor Rebecca Alty. “I will be wearing orange in honour of the thousands of children sent to residential schools and for the families whose lives were forever changed. I encourage others to wear orange in support of all Indigenous Peoples.”