Aboriginal leader of Manitoulin Island asks people not to celebrate Canada Day

When July 1st arrives, Patsy Corbiere will not do any celebrations. She hopes that her neighbors on Manitoulin Island and all Canadians will follow suit.

Corbiere is the chief of Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation and the tribal chair of the United Chief and Mnitoo Mnising Committee (UCCMM).

UCCMM asks people not to celebrate Canada Day this year. Instead, the organization asks people to use this day to learn about the history of boarding schools and their continuing impact.

“We don’t want to scare people, you know, not to celebrate Canada Day,” Corbiere said.

“But what they need to do is start searching and reading truth and reconciliation [Comission] Reports… let people understand themselves and how we will solve these problems. “

UCCMM issued a statement regarding Canada’s National Day celebrations after news broke last month that the remains of approximately 215 children were found at the site of a former boarding school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

“What are you celebrating?”

With the news of Kamloops and the difficult conversations it sparked across the country, some communities have been trying to figure out how to celebrate Canada Day this year, if any.

Earlier this month, the Victoria City Council Unanimous vote canceled Canada Day program planned by the city. Last week, the Wilmot community near Kitchener, Ontario, Did the same thing.

Patsy Corbiere is the tribal chairperson of the United Chief and the Mnitoo Mnising Committee. (Submitted by Patsy Corbiere)

As people across the country digest the news, learn more about boarding schools, and re-examine the trauma, Corbiere said that now is not the time for the usual Canada Day celebrations.

“Well, look at Canada Day. What’s going on in Canada Day? The government, yes. So, when you see that, what are you celebrating?” Corbiere said.

“Canada, you should be a country full of love, caring and kindness. But you just ignore what the aboriginals do.”

Local Canada Day Program

Some communities on Manitoulin Island still plan to continue small, COVID-friendly Canada Day celebrations.

“The mistakes made in the past should be investigated and resolved. But this does not mean that the work is a country. We must abandon celebrations for the country we all love,” said Mayor Al McNevin of Northeast Manitoulin and Islands. And added that the municipality has not been directly asked to cancel any of its plans.

Elsewhere in the Northeast, Greater Sudbury usually sponsors Canada Day events hosted by Science North and other organizations. A spokesperson said that the city currently has no information about these plans to share.

At the same time, in North Bay, Mayor Al McDonald stated that the city is “sensitive to what is happening across the country”, but at this time, a virtual celebration has been set up to commemorate this moment. MacDonald said the city has not received any direct request for cancellation of the plan.

Face history

Although organized activities may continue, Corbiere said that individuals, groups and businesses on and off Manitoulin Island have responded very positively to UCCMM’s requirements.

Pastor Whitney Bruno said she fully supports the organization’s call.

It opened various wounds in the community.— Pastor Whitney Bruno

Bruno is the pastor of Little Current United Church and Sheguiandah United Church.After moving from the United States to Canada, she began to hold this position in April this year

“I know there are a lot of First Nations in the area I am going to enter, and I will learn a lot. I didn’t realize how fast it would be on my plate,” Bruno said.

Bruno was reading a book on the Indian Act when the discovery of Camploops became news.

Bruno said: “It is really overwhelming to see the content of the textbook appear again. It has opened various wounds in the community.”

Pastor Whitney Bruno is the pastor of Little Current United Church and Sheguiandah United Church. (Submitted by Whitney Bruno)

Bruno said she knew the legacy of the boarding school near Manitoulin Island. In recent weeks, she has had many conversations with people who have tried to accept the news—from those who lost their loved ones in boarding schools to those who are far away from the experience of being “turned out” by the news.

Bruno is very happy that these conversations are taking place, and she encourages people to spend time on Canada Day to learn from this history. But she hopes that learning and dialogue will not end there.

“I hope that in July and August, we still demand truth and reconciliation [Commission]The paper has taken action,” Bruno said.

“This can’t be old news for next month.”

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