It’s July 2nd, the day after “Canada Day” 2021 when there was a call across this country. A plea to take time to reflect, listen and learn after the discovery of mass and unmarked graves of over 1,500+ Indigenous children. These children were forced to attend Canada’s Indian Residential School system. The call was to bypass celebrating for this year at least and think. Imagine if even one of these children was your own. Taken by the government. Forced to attend a boarding school where they would be subjected to torture, sexual abuse, stripped of their language, culture and spirit, starved. Murdered.
I spent yesterday at an Every Child Matters march and then reflected. Thought long and hard about what the country I love so much was guilty of. By the end of the day I felt so much upset. Of course, from hearing the stories of survivors. Of course from coming to terms with my own ignorance and inaction. But more than that. I was anxious, frustrated, hurt, disillusioned to hear so many firework celebrations from my home in Toronto. I could only imagine what I would have felt had I been a survivor of one of these residential schools. Does no one care? Is no one listening?
Call to Action
Well, I am listening. And I care. And I am committed to action. I will not let this issue drift into the abyss of fleeting upsets that so often come and go, numbing us to the gravity of what has taken place. If you’re like me and think that this is just the beginning of our awakening and call to action, then you may find some of the links below helpful. It is by no means an exhaustive list of resources. It’s simply what I have come across in the small window of time that I have focused my attention. Small window especially when you consider these atrocities have been happening for generations.
You don’t have to do everything, just do something.
Here’s a start…
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation – a portal for information and services for Survivors and their families of Canada’s Indian Residential School System. It’s also a great resource to learn more about the past and present damage created the IRSS. You can download copies of the TRC Report as well as the 94 Calls to Action to educate yourself. And you can advocate for their completion to your Member of Parliament and Prime Minister.
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – the website gives the full background of the inquiry into the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada. You can download the findings and recommendations to educate yourself. And to advocate for completion of the 231 Calls for Justice to your own Member of Parliament and Prime Minister.
Members of Parliament – not sure who your Member of Parliament is? Check here.
University of Alberta Indigenous Canada course – a free, 21-hr program to re-educate yourself on indigenous-settler relations, contemporary Indigenous life and so much more. You can work through the program at your own pace and you earn a shareable certificate when complete.
The Gord Downie Chanie Wenjack Fund – created to build cultural understanding on the pathway to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. This Fund is a fantastic source of learning materials, events and mental health supports.
Indian Residential School Survivors Society – an agency dedicated to providing services and support to Survivors of Canada’s Residential School System. Non-Indigenous peoples can access the site to learn more and to donate to help Survivors.
Whose Land App – available on-line and for download on your smart phone, this service allows you to identify a location and find out what Indigenous Land they are a part of on as well as the Treaties & Agreements associated.