This Canada Day is about remembering the thousands of children who demand to be heard

Hill Times June 28, 2021

Kamloops. Brandon. St. Anne’s. Marieval. And the list grows.

The numbers are devastating, but they should not be news. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathered data on at least 4,000 to 6,000 children who did not return from the government-funded, church-run institutions. That number will increase, given that some schools had a death rate of more than 50 per cent.

When that brutal fact came to light, the federal government stopped tracking deaths of Indigenous children in these institutions. In the mainstream Euro-western view, if there isn’t paper then it didn’t happen. They knew that police and Canadians wouldn’t believe the thousands of Indigenous parents desperately looking for their missing children.

Thousands of children died at the hands of churches funded by the federal government. This is not a footnote of Canadian history. This is a foundation of Canadian history. This is one of the longest-running policies and funding programs which was based on the worst of intents, to “kill the Indian in the child.”

It boggles the mind that some Canadians would rather deny the history and therefore the pain of their neighbours than accept the facts. It is time that every single sector leader, politician and influencer demand that the deniers stop. It must stop. There should be criminal consequences for denying the facts of history.

Sector leaders and CEOs wondering what to say this Canada Day? Don’t shy away from real leadership. It’s time to reflect on the emotional reaction of Canadians and of employees. It’s time to take a stand for Indigenous people. It’s time to show support.

The media must give this crisis the space that any similar crisis would demand. People notice when this crisis is buried by editors down below the Britney Spears story.

Stunned silence will greet those who demand to raise a Canadian flag in celebration this July 1.  Don’t mistake this response as support. This stunned silence is akin to the silence that we all give to those who laugh at funerals, make light of tragedy, dismiss other’s pain, and dance over graves.

This Canada Day is about remembering the thousands of children who demand to be heard.

Unfortunately, there is no guide on how to grieve genocide. We’re just going to have to support each other and figure it out together.