Today is a conflicting day, to say the least.
July 1st is the day that we celebrate the Confederation of Canada. Normally this is a joy filled packed to the brim with barbeques, fireworks, and parties.
This year, Canadians are being forced to face the demons in our country's closet. Because of two seemingly innocuous words, communities throughout the country are cancelling their Canada Day celebrations. Two words that are a permanent stain on the country because of how evil it all was
If you're not familiar with that term, here's what it means. Residential Schools were set up by the Catholic Church to eliminate the indigenous culture and indoctrinate Indigenous children into a European way of living. On the face, it was a way of educating them; but once you look past the veneer, the attempted genocide is blatant. We were trying to eliminate their culture entirely but targeting their children. Hundreds of thousands of children went through this system after being ripped away from their families by the RCMP. Literally... the Canadian federal police agency forced parents to relinquish their children.
These children were punished for speaking their native language, practicing their traditions, and not conforming to the ideals of European-centric society. These children were beaten, sexually abused, and murdered. Not "oh they died by accident, teehee," but murdered. I've heard stories of kids having their skulls bashed in with a 2x4; babies, who were born as a product of the sexual abuse the children endured, were thrown into furnaces while they were still alive having just been born (because we know how the church feels about abortion).
This all sounds like some barbaric system from the 1800s, right? No way that something so terrible happened in a modern, civilized society... right? You would think so, if it weren't for the fact that the last Residential School closed in 1996.
Let me say that again...
The last residential school closed in beslubbering 1996.
This is not some distant piece of history, or long forgotten atrocity. There are people alive today who experienced these horrors and survive that are my age or younger.
The reason I bring this up and the reason so many communities are cancelling Canada Day celebrations is because this topic has been thrust into the limelight for the most horrible reason. They are finding bodies in quantities that are shocking. The first major one that captured headlines was when they found 215 bodies of children buried in an unmarked grave. You'd figure that was bad, but it wasn't long after that discovery that more bodies were found at a different school; this time numbering over 700.
I'm a proud Canadian. I love my country. I am proud to wear a uniform that has the maple leaf on it, and I could not imagine living anywhere else. I want my daughter to grow up with the same mentality that I have. That being said... this has shaken me to my core. I still proudly wear my uniform, and I love my country. What I am having a hard time saying is that I am proud of my country. And I'm ok with that. We, as Canadians, tend to put ourselves on a pedestal of being "one of the good guys" in the world; and that is something we have done well in some regards. But we can no longer hide the blood on our hands, nor should we.
We will never be able to reunite the thousands of children who lost their lives in these schools. We will never be able to heal the scars, both physical and mental, left on the indigenous community.
We are Canada. We can do better. We should do better.