This year, July 1 was charged with new meaning, as rivers of orange flooded streets in major cities — showcasing Indigenous diversity, pride, and strength — in the wake of devastating discoveries in Canada.
Over 80 cities decided to officially get on board with cries for accountability and action, and officially ‘Cancel Canada Day,’ including Victoria, B.C., Penticton, B.C., Salmon Arm, B.C., and La Ronge, Sask. (though not all municipalities obliged).
Indigenous Peoples, joined by allies, friends, relatives and supporters, organized, gathered, spoke, sang, danced, drummed, marched, rallied, held ceremony, conducted work, and as Gitxsan journalist Angela Sterritt tweeted on the day, “took the country back.”
Around ten thousand people showed up in London Ontario, territory of the Chippewa of the Thames, the Oneida of the Thames, and the Muncey Delaware Nation, on July 1, to show their support for Indigenous Peoples.
Here are photos from independent filmmaker and photographer Moses Latigo Opong:
‘We are the original people’
Also on July 1, Sekawnee Baker of the Squamish and Tla’amin Nations says he was given the traditional name Gusdzidsas, which means “always moving forward.” That’s the message he says he hoped to get across yesterday when he addressed the crowd gathered on unceded Coast Salish territories in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
“I’m not Canadian. My people, my Ancestors, my family — we are the original people of this land,” the 22-year-old recording artist and music producer told the crowd.
Over the phone to IndigiNews, he says he feels great about taking the stage.
“It was a very spiritual and overwhelming experience,” he says. “I’m doing what the Ancestors want me to do. I feel like I’m walking in their steps and they’re giving me the power to continue.”
There’s just one thing he forgot to say to the crowd, he says.
“I really wanted to encourage everybody, no matter what age you are … surround [yourselves] with some Elders and learn. Learn your language. Learn your traditions. Learn your protocol. Go hunting. Go fishing. Just learn anything because one day we have to pass this down to the next generation.
“If I don’t learn … my kids’ kids are not going to know anything, and that’s part of colonization,” he says. “They want us to forget.”
Honouring Our Children
Two separate events were held at the Victoria legislature building, in Lək̓ʷəŋən (Lekwungen) territory on July 1. The first took place during the day and was organized by Kasalas Sasha Perron, Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw from the Da’naxda’xw First Nation, who ran 216 km to raise funds for survivors of residential “schools.”
Leadership from the island Nations and various communities joined Perron at the wharf and marched beside and behind him and his family, for his last kilometre, meeting at the Victoria legislature for speeches, singing, dancing, stories and celebrations.
Photos by independent photographer Colin Smith:
The second event, ‘Honouring Our Children,’ held from 6-8pm was organized by Tiffany Joseph, who’s W̱SÁNEĆ, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and Quw’utsun. Both events were held with permission from leadership of local nations, and opened and closed with speakers from the communities.
“I have been so happy to hear from some of you how full your hearts were. How you cried and smiled and were filled up last night,” writes Joseph on the event Facebook page. “My favourite part was the elders getting up and dancing, I wanted to sing until every elder had the chance to dance! I loved seeing people in the crowd sing.”
After the evening event closed, a group led a march to the statue of British colonizer James Cook. While hundreds surrounded the area, the statue was taken down, tossed into the water, and a red dress, representing the countless Indigenous women who have been murdered or gone missing, was put in its place. Two statues of queens were also taken down in Winnipeg, at Manitoba’s legislature on the same day.
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