For many, Canadian citizenship is a badge of great honour. However, in this time of world-wide calls to end discriminatory practices and root out racism, it’s important to acknowledge and own that there are many historic and contemporary examples of systemic abuse in Canada, especially when it comes to the treatment of its Indigenous Peoples.
On July 1st each year, Canada commemorates the day in 1867 that it became a country. Many people fly the Canadian flag, wear red and white, hold barbecues, go on outdoor adventures, and set off or watch fireworks. Others choose not to celebrate a day that, for them, marks a brutal period of colonization. This year, take time to learn more about how colonization continues to have negative impacts. This knowledge allows us to observe Canada Day in a way that is respectful and understanding.
Canada’s history is deep and complex and begins long before 1867. For thousands of years, Aboriginal peoples with different cultures, languages and traditions lived on what is now Canadian soil. When Europeans arrived, they signed treaties. These were intended as formal agreements that outlined promises, obligations, and benefits to Indigenous nations and the government of Canada. However, they resulted in exploitation of land and promoted assimilation and systemic racism. Living in Saskatoon, this history is vitally important to understand—for newcomers and long-time residents alike.
Saskatoon is a part of Treaty 6 territory and the homeland of the Métis. All residents of Saskatoon are therefore treaty people and are responsible to respect the treaty and each other. On Canada Day, let’s not just reflect on what it means to be Canadian but also what it means to be a treaty person.
As you prepare for July 1st this year, here are some resources to learn, reflect, take steps towards reconciliation, and celebrate the holiday with your family or close friends.
1. Reconciliation Saskatoon: How to be a ConnectR
2. Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools
3. Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada
4. Timeline of Indigenous Peoples in Canada
1. Canada Day celebrations 2020 (launches June 29)
2. Indigenous created short films (suitable for kids)
3. Namwayut: We are all one. A story of Residential School Survivor
1. Connect with your neighbours by creating Canada Day cards with this 3-D Beaver craft.
2. Do the #next150 Challenge
3. Indigenous Languages Word Search
4. Build a Time Capsule
5. Play the online Turtle Island Game to learn about First Nation, Metis and Inuit Culture