In light of recent discoveries at Canada’s former residential schools, the subject of Canada Day celebrations and how to conduct them respectfully has been front and centre over the past several days.
Over the weekend, Wahta First Nation Chief Philip Franks decided to address the issue by posting the following statement:
“In response to an enquiry from a Gibson Lake cottager regarding an opinion on Canada Day fireworks, Chief Franks responded with the following:
Thank you for your email. Obviously, this is a huge issue that Canadians should come to terms with. I imagine a large portion of the population are aware of the recent news and then there are those in other demographics that may not be so affected. Not affected because they have not been educated on what the root of the loss of lives throughout the residential school system really was all about.
Anyone that reads the current news reports will see that we as Indigenous people are saying that we always knew there are unmarked graves, but perhaps they do not realize what roughly a hundred and fifty years of a government stripping Indigenous Nations of their children, their language and traditions, and the very fabric of a civilization has done. Located resting spots of children is not just a part of the news cycle, it is the real Canadian history.
I agree with you, education has started, perhaps through the media, but reconciliation cannot happen before acknowledgement, acceptance and coming to terms with truth. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report was issued some six years ago. Did it take physical evidence for people to believe it, I suppose so. The good thing is those children will finally get the respect they did not get while alive.
Regarding your enquiry on thoughts about fireworks for Canada Day at Gibson Lake, I would only hope that the people who have cottages, parts of which were a part of Wahta Mohawk lands but taken away a hundred years ago by the same government mentality, will reflect on the whole issue. As a sign of respect, it would certainly help relationships if there were no fireworks celebrations. I do understand some may regard this as a cancel culture (as recently coined), but really, whose culture was cancelled?
I appreciate your thoughts and efforts to help in educating the populace, we have been trying to do so for a long time.”
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