If you or anyone you know is Indigenous and needs support, the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24/7 at 1–866–925–4419.
We’re pausing our planned campaigning this week to instead lift up Indigenous voices and amplify the growing call to make this a week of mourning, reflection, and action.
As you probably know, a month ago the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation reported the discovery of a mass grave with the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC. Last week, Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan identified 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School. Combined with discoveries in Brandon, Regina, Lestock, and Carlisle, this brings the total number to 1,323.
That number alone is horrifying, but those kids were just a small portion of the thousands forcibly separated from their families, abused, and murdered by Canada’s residential school system. Indigenous communities have and continue to experience this painful truth and it’s been six years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission laid it bare. Let’s be clear: these are not discoveries, they are confirmations.
Many think that this dark “chapter” in the Canadian colonial project ended with the closing of the last residential and day schools. The truth is, that the systemic genocide of Indigenous peoples isn’t just a “chapter” — it’s Canada’s whole story. Even today, Canada has more Indigenous children under the care of state child services than in over a hundred years of residential schools; thousands of murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls, and 2spirit folks have yet to see justice; and Indigenous land defenders are criminalized for protecting their lands from greedy corporations.
As people focus on solving the climate crisis, it’s also important to understand the connection between the problem we’re now facing and residential schools. This was a program designed to break the connection between Indigenous peoples and the land, so that Canada could take and use that land. This set in motion the decisions that would lead us to where we are today — with massive fossil fuel extraction and transportation projects fueling the climate crisis built and running on stolen Indigenous lands and waters.
No matter what associations you might have with Canada Day, there is nothing to celebrate this July 1st. Instead, please join us in answering the call to give Indigenous people space to mourn and for non-Indigenous people to take action to challenge Canada’s ongoing colonial project. We’ve gathered a list of resources and next steps below.
Clayton, Atiya, Amara, Cam, Chris, Emma, and Katie (the 350 Canada team)
Resources and services for Indigenous people
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society Counselling Services
- Survivors crisis line is open 24 hours a day & 7 days a week: 1800–721–0066
Actions non-Indigenous people can take this week
- Prioritize donating to local frontline organizations that are supporting people in crisis at the local level. Those groups are the ones that need funds the most.
- Join a Cancel Canada Day Event near you — Click to find a #CancelCanadaDay action in your community
- Donate to Idle No More
- Donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society
- Read about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and its 94 Calls to Action.
- Talk to your friends and family about what you’re learning and why you aren’t celebrating Canada Day
Educational resources for non-Indigenous people
- Settlers Take Action resources compiled by the On Canada Project
- Yellowhead Institute — Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation
- Find out whose traditional territory you live on. Visit native-land.ca
- Sign up for Indigenous Canada, a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.
- Stealing Children to Steal the Land
- Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls