The recent discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School has prompted many communities to cancel Canada celebrations this year.
Traditional Canada Day Celebrations are intended to be an opportunity for Canadians to show pride in the country’s history, culture and achievements.
It is very understandable, and right, that many Canadians are not feeling very proud of those things right now.
But, while we can cancel Canada Day, we cannot cancel Canada or its history.
What we can do is move forward in a true spirit of reconciliation.
What does that mean exactly?
According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), it means:
“Reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.”
It has now been 13 years since Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his Statement of Apology on behalf of Canadians for the residential school system.
It has been nine years since the Idle No More movement raised the profile of Indigenous issues to national attention.
And it has been six years since the TRC published its report and 94 calls to action.
For far too long we have paid lip service to the concept of reconciliation.
True reconciliation cannot be achieved from silos. It requires actually coming together and taking action locally, regionally and nationally to address the inegalitarian structure of our society.
That will be a lengthy and complex process even with a hard shift from platitudes to action.
The Interior News applauds the Proton Foundation, Smithers Bridging Committee, Smithers District Chamber of Commerce, Smithers Public Library and Smithers town council for coming together and finding a way to hold a Canada Day event that has the potential to be a meaningful step in the process.
We encourage Smithereens to attend Canada Day 2021: A Day of Reflection at Bovill Square on July 1.