Trigger warning: Readers may be triggered by the recount of Indian Residential Schools. To access a 24-hour National Crisis Line, call: 1-866-925-4419. Community Assistance Program (CAP) can be accessed for citizens of the Anishinabek Nation: 1-800-663-1142.
Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation came together to observe a Day of Mourning on Tuesday, August 3 to honor the children who never made it home from Indian Residential Schools.
The day began with a Sunrise Ceremony and Sunrise to Sunset Sacred Fire. The event began with guest speakers at City Hall followed by an awareness walk to Del Crary Park where guest speakers were also in attendance.
As the 215th day of the year, August 3 is significant because as most Canadians know by now, earlier this year, it was reported that the buried remains of 215 children were discovered at a former Indian Residential School within the territory of the Tk'emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation in Kamloops, British Columbia.
Curve Lake First Nation Chief Emily Whetung encourages all communities to organize Day of Mourning events in their own communities to raise awareness.
“We have all seen the identification of these little ones’ final resting place has had a profound impact on Canadians at large,” she says, adding that local events such as these are considered opportunities for all Canadians to grieve with First Nations.
Her hope is that both the provincial and federal governments will see that Canadians need an annual Day of Mourning to recognize the horrific history of Indian Residential Schools.
Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe, who was unable to attend the Day of Mourning in Curve Lake due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions, also sees a need for an annual National Day of Mourning and sends his support for the event. He describes the recent discovery of Indian Residential School graves as a shameful legacy that must be acknowledged.
“The discovery of the graves across Canada has exposed the darkest part of this country’s past,” states Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “The legacy of Indian Residential Schools has left scars of intergenerational trauma on our families and communities. One does not have to look far to see the effects these institutions have and continue to have on our people.”
The Anishinabek Nation considers a National Day of Mourning as necessary to continue to build awareness of Indian Residential School history and the trauma they have caused. The Anishinabek Nation calls on the Prime Minister and Government of Canada to declare a National Day of Mourning on the 215th day of each year to mark the terrible loss of innocent young lives that occurred at all Indian Residential Schools.
“The Anishinabek Nation is committed to not only honoring our children who never made it home but also supporting our survivors,” adds Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “I encourage all Canadians to support survivors by learning the true history of this country and to broadcast a message of solidarity with First Nations by holding the Canadian government accountable.”
About Anishinabek Nation
The Anishinabek Nation is a political advocate for 39 member First Nations across Ontario, representing approximately 65,000 citizens. The Anishinabek Nation is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.