What is #CancelCanadaDay?
You may have seen the #CancelCanadaDay hashtag trending on social media – here are some resources to help you take action.
In response to the confirmation of unmarked burial sites of children’s remains at the sites of former residential schools across Canada, the #CancelCanadaDay hashtag has trended and many are calling upon organizations and institutions to cancel Canada Day celebrations in 2021 and use this day to reflect on the lives lost to the Canadian State and to ongoing colonial violence.
What is #CancelCanadaDay?
Idle No More is calling on all individuals and organizations that wish to challenge colonialism in Canada to take the following actions:
Who: Individuals, groups, or communities that want to challenge and disrupt Canada’s ongoing colonialism
When: July 1, 2021
Where: Traditional Indigenous territories, urban or rural, from coast to coast to coast
What: Take action including banner drops, sit ins, round dances, service disruptions, ceremonies, #Landback camps, marches and rallies. Please adhere to COVID-19 precautions specific to your region.
How: Gather in person or virtually, plan your action, and share your event details on the INM Facebook event page. Idle No More encourages actions to include orange shirts, so long as it feels appropriate to do so. Social media graphics are also available on the Idle No More website.
They also urge participants to centre Indigenous leadership and voices in #CancelCanadaDay activities and encourage participants to look for existing Indigenous-led local initiatives to support.
How can museums, galleries, and heritage organizations contribute to #CancelCanadaDay?
The City of Victoria has recently agreed by unanimous support to cancel the city’s existing Canada Day celebrations in favour of producing a broadcast in partnership with Indigenous artists and local First Nations.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps issued the following statement:
“As First Nations mourn and in light of the challenging moment we are in as a Canadian nation following the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former residential school, council has decided to take the time to explore new possibilities, instead of the previously planned virtual Canada Day broadcast.”
If your organization wishes to support #CancelCanadaDay, consider how you can work with your community on and after July 1 to centre Indigenous voices, explore challenging subjects, and work towards addressing Canada’s history of colonialism and white supremacy. While cancelling your Canada Day celebrations and social media posts is one way to show support and solidarity, bringing your community together in active support of Indigenous lives, Black lives, Migrant lives, Women and LGBTQ2+ lives, is another powerful way to take action.
Some ideas for taking action include:
Bring your staff and volunteers together and discuss what you can do to take action on reconciliation in your community. Discuss which stories you’re currently telling and which ones you’re not telling. Can you develop exhibits or content that specifically explore the damaging effects of colonialism in your community? Can you work with other organizations or groups to magnify your reach? If you’re angry or saddened by the terrible events of the past weeks, bring your team together and talk about how you can explore these emotions through your organization’s work and make a difference.
Reallocate your existing Canada Day funding
With July 1 being three weeks away, your organization may have already made commitments for a celebration. There is still time to decentralize the colonial voice of these celebrations and seek ways in which your event can make space for dialogues on decolonization and reconciliation. If you can reallocate your funding, consider making a donation to one of the following organizations to directly support decolonial efforts in your community.
Share information with your community
Share information about the 94 Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, UNDRIP, Challenge Racist BC, and the Final Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Research the colonial legacies of your museum, community, or region. Organizations like Point Ellice House in Victoria have been open in addressing the colonial legacy of the house and its inhabitants (see, ‘The Progress of the Country’: Peter O’Reilly in Wet’suwet’en Territories). This interactive map will show you the locations of residential schools near your community: https://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/beyond-94-residential-school-map/. Part of addressing racism and colonial violence in Canada comes from acknowledging our own roles and the roles of the institutions we work for, in systems of oppression – now is the time to reflect, learn, and take action.
Don’t wait for other people to begin taking action
Given the tragic events of the past weeks, it is natural to look for guidance right now from Indigenous and Muslim communities into directing anti-oppression actions, but it is also important to remember that many communities are in the midst of tremendous grief and tramua triggered by recent events. Reaching out now, even with sincere offers to help, can be difficult for communities, especially for many racialized or marginalized communities who have been repeatedly harmed by attempts at “help” from white/hegemonic communities. It is critical that Indigenous voices, Black voices, Migrant voices, Women’s voices, and LGBTQ2+ voices are centred in anti-racism and anti-oppression actions, but we cannot expect marginalized communities to perform all of the labour themselves. Individuals in positions of power and privilege must be prepared to also take action.
As we approach July 1, the BCMA encourages our members to reflect on the past and to look to the future. What kind of country do we want to live in? If you are horrified by the callous disregard for human life seen at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School or in the act of terror in London, Ontario, use this time to reflect on the past 150+ years of violence, racism, and oppression and think about actions you can take today to build a better tomorrow. That work starts now.
Social media graphics are available to download on the Idle No More website.