Canada’s National Day redefined over unmarked graves

Hidden graves at Kamloops residential school
Nicholas Rausch/AFP

Celebrations of Canada’s national day were more subdued than usual in parts of the country Thursday amid mounting fury and grief over the recent discoveries of more than 1,000 unmarked graves on or near the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children…

In a statement Thursday, Trudeau acknowledged that “for some, Canada Day is not yet a day of celebration.”

“We, as Canadians, must be honest with ourselves about our history because in order to chart a new and better path forward, we have to recognize the terrible mistakes of the past,” he said. “The truth is we’ve got a long way to go to make things right with Indigenous peoples.”

Indigenous leaders expect to find many more unmarked graves as communities across the country turn to ground-penetrating radar to unearth dark secrets buried for decades…

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in a 2015 report that many of the students were subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the schools, which barred them from practicing their traditions and speaking their languages. It said that schools carried out “cultural genocide” and effectively institutionalized child neglect.

Some folks from nearby tribes, students from today’s version of these schools, visited the graves. Some leaving children’s toys, most bringing their own shoes to leave at gravesites. I hope someone brings strong justice to lay on the heads and hearts of those responsible for a childhood of religious slavery.

2 thoughts on “Canada’s National Day redefined over unmarked graves

  1. Bilagáana says:

    In 1989, members of the Havasupai Tribe, whose people live deep in the Grand Canyon, approached researchers at Arizona State University and asked for help identifying genomic markers that might point to a genetic disposition for diabetes.
    DNA samples were collected from members of the tribe. But years later, they learned their samples were used for much more — including research for things like mental illness and inbreeding — without their consent.
    They sued over it, won their samples back and issued a banishment order against the university from their land.
    It’s one of the most infamous examples of how researchers have taken Indigenous peoples’ data without permission — and the devastating results it can yield.
    Krystal Tsosie aims to combat that problem.
    Tsosie is a geneticist and bioethicist at Vanderbilt University and the Native BioData Consortium and a member of the Navajo Nation.
    She helped to organize the first IndigiData consortium, which met in June, focused on training a new generation of Indigenous data scientists.
    “Training the Next Generation of Indigenous Data Scientists : A new workshop explores the right of Indigenous people to govern the collection, ownership and use of their biological and cultural data.” (NYT)

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