Movement calls for cancellation of Canada Day celebrations in Manitoba

WINNIPEG — A movement is calling for the cancellation of all Canada Day celebrations in the wake of the discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential school sites.

Gerry Shingoose, a residential school survivor, took to Twitter to call out the celebrations earlier in June.

“I’m asking that you wake up,” Shingoose, who was wearing a shirt reading ‘CancelCanadaDay,’ said in a video posted to social media.

“I’m going to be wearing it on Canada Day. It’s Cancel Canada (Day) and no pride in genocide.”

With the discovery of hundreds of unmarked children’s graves at former residential schools in B.C. and Saskatchewan, some communities are not celebrating Canada Day.

Cities in New Brunswick have cancelled plans and earlier this month Victoria did the same.

In Manitoba, the Shamattawa First Nation is going one step further.

“I don’t think this year is a year to celebrate,” said Shamattawa Chief Eric Redhead.

Redhead said his community will not celebrate Canada Day, as a way to honour the children who never made it home from the residential schools. All Canadian flags in the community have been taken down.

“Those flags that we’ve taken down will not go back up as long as I’m Chief—until the government recognizes the residential school system as an act of genocide.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about Canada Day Friday.

“I think all of us need to aspire and work hard to get to the point where everyone across this country will be able to celebrate fully,” said Trudeau.

Premier Brian Pallister said people should dedicate themselves to reconciliation, but not by stopping Canada Day festivities.

“I don’t think denying Canada Day celebrations is a respectful way for us to move forward,” Pallister said. “I think we should celebrate our country but celebrate it with its warts too.”

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said he will celebrate Canada Day with his family, but not without reflection.

“I’ll also be taking a moment to pause and reflect on how we can strengthen our community and live up to those ideals that we all hold dear,” said Bowman. 

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