June 30, 2021

(Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Swx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C.) – Canadians and many across the globe have been shocked and saddened by recent confirmations, at what might be only the first of many former Indian Residential School sites, of unmarked burials containing the remains of hundreds of children. These burial confirmations are no surprise to Indigenous people, who have always known the sad and horrific reality that many Indigenous children taken away to residential schools, never returned home, while many others were victim to physical, mental, and sexual abuse. These horrific institutions were used as a means to strip the Indigenous identity, culture, and language out of the children who attended.

The burial confirmations have prompted much media coverage and dialogue regarding the devastating impacts these genocidal institutions had, and continue to have, on Indigenous peoples and communities across Canada and represent one of the darkest realities of Canada’s history. This is an important reason many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people either have no interest or mixed feelings about celebrating Canada Day tomorrow. The First Nations Summit views Canada Day 2021 as an opportunity for Canadians to take some time to learn more about Indigenous issues and the negative effects of Canada’s colonial history, including the Indian Residential School system.