Reflections on Canada Day



On Canada Day we often remember and reflect on what it means to be Canadian, to live in this country and enjoy the freedoms and privileges it affords most of us. Many of us will mark Canada Day with family and friends, recognizing the diversity and beauty of this country. While marking the day how you see appropriate, we encourage you to take time for careful thought about the history and current reality for Indigenous peoples. By truly understanding the past, acknowledging the present, and working together, we can build a better future for all Canadians.

Being Canadian means knowing our history and the legacy of this nation, as well as our achievements and successes. Birthed only 154 years ago, out of a colonial past, this country is known worldwide for its triumphs, less for its failings. The Indigenous people knew though of Canada’s failings and acts of genocide, and they shared their stories in the hearings during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigation. Although apologies have been provided, Indigenous people remain marginalized and suffer from systematic racism throughout Canada.

Over the past year, as we live in and though this pandemic, we have been forced to confront the systemic racism, post-colonial remnants and current realities that continue to shape the lives of Canadians – those who were here before and those who have arrived anew. Canada Day has always had a different meaning for many Canadians, and especially for Indigenous peoples. This year, Canada Day feels very different for many Canadians as we confront the historic abuses of our past and current realities.

This Canada Day is an opportunity for us to have these important conversations about what it means to be Canadian, to reflect, ask questions and learn more about our past so we can work together for a better Canada for all.

At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, we have recently acknowledged the tragic discoveries of Indigenous children in unmarked graves at the site of former Residential Schools. We acknowledge the legacy of Canada’s colonial systems and discriminatory practices that are still a present-day reality for many. We have acknowledged that these historical and present-day injustices affect the Indigenous communities we serve and the lives of children and youth who face systemic racism and oppression, resulting in societal barriers and adversities.

We maintain our commitment to listening to and amplifying Indigenous communities and their stories.

We commit here to deepen the way we act to disrupt racism against Indigenous people to ensure that all young people, especially those from Indigenous communities feel protected, safe and included within BBBS.

We know there is so much more to be done, for all of us to work together towards equity, justice, and reconciliation.

Reconciliation is meaningless if we have not learned the truth of Canada’s history.

Join us in learning more about our Indigenous brothers and sisters. BMO, one of our major national partners has shared with us a learning module from the First Nations University of Canada that is free for the community to access until July 15, 2021. The course aims to promote equity, understanding and respect of Indigenous cultures and values in Canadian society.

In addition to taking the free eLearning course, we invite you join us in honoring the residential children on July 1st, 2021 at 10 am. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is holding a ceremony to celebrate the Indigenous children.

As this will be a sacred ceremony it will not be streamed online. Please join us in spirit in honouring the children. Say a prayer, light a candle or honour the children in your own way at 10am on Canada Day.

We would like to thank Tanya Tourangeau, Indigenous Engagement Lead, MENTOR Canada, for sharing her knowledge and support towards BBBSC’s allyship with the Indigenous people of Canada. Tanya is Dene from NWT and is passionate about capacity building for her people. Please feel free to reach out to Tanya to discuss Indigenous Mentoring programs and collaboration opportunities.

Additionally, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada works closely with the members of the Diversity Working Group and the National Youth Mentoring Advisory Council for support and advice on equity, diversity and inclusion in our programs and outreach.