Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter says Canada Day is a time to show pride in the country and appreciate the freedoms and privileges Canadians enjoy, however, he says this Canada Day is different.
“In recent weeks, we have all been devastated by the news of several findings of hundreds of unmarked graves on the sites of former Indian Residential Schools across the country,” he says.
He says the news has raised widespread awareness of the truth of Canada’s history with Indigenous Peoples, and has “prompted all of us to reflect upon our beginnings as a nation.”
“I wish to express my heartfelt sorrow and grief in solidarity with all of those in our community and across Canada who have been deeply affected by the recent news,” adds Carter.
Flags will be flown at half-mast at all city facilities until further notice.
Out of respect for Indigenous Peoples, together with the region, the city is shifting the focus of Canada Day 2021 to be one of learning, reflection and action.
“This Canada Day is a day to remember our duty to the original stewards of this land,” Carter continues. “It is an opportunity to honour the Indigenous Peoples who have nurtured and continue to nurture the land that we have the privilege to live on.”
The City of Oshawa is located on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, covered under the Williams Treaties. Oshawa is the present day home of thousands of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples.
As Indigenous History Month comes to a close on Canada Day, Durham Regional Chair John Henry says he is reminded that the time is “far overdue to examine our relationships with Indigenous Peoples, and the lands we have the privilege to call our home.”
“In light of the recent discoveries in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, and in solidarity and respect for Indigenous neighbours, On Canada Day I encourage all residents to take this time to reflect on our relationships – both past and present – with Indigenous Peoples, and to move forward with reconciliation in our hearts, minds and actions,” says Henry.
He says the “unacceptable truth” is that there have been discovered like this before, and there will be more discoveries in the future.
“I am grateful for the work Indigenous leaders are undertaking to search more former residential school sites, and we continue to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples,” he adds.
In recognition of the lands in which Canadians reside, the region installed a flagpole to permanently fly the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation flag at Regional Headquarters. It was installed on June 21 – Indigenous Peoples Day.
“While this is a gesture we are proud of, we know much more work is required to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous neighbours that uphold the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action in all our spaces,” Henry continues.
Henry says Canadians have always prided themselves on being one of the best countries in the world because of being open, honest and welcoming.
“We need to uphold that reputation tis Canada Day, and take this time to be open and honest with ourselves, and our historic and present-day relationship with the First Peoples of this land.”