Canada Day isn't so Happy
Canada Day is a national statutory holiday that marks and celebrates the anniversary of Canada becoming one by uniting three separate colonies (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Province of Canada) on July 1st 1867 also known as the Constitution Act 1867. Formally known as Dominion Day, the name change occurred in 1982 when Canada became a sovereign nation gaining complete independence from the UK also known as the Patriation of the Constitution which allowed Canada to have full control of their own government.
The commemoration of Canada Day doesn’t highlight Canada’s establishment on Indigenous land, rather the country’s colonial history. Just 10 days prior, National Indigenous People’s Day is celebrated on June 21st; it started gaining more attention in recent years. However, most people are not aware of it, and it’s a statutory holiday only in parts of Canada. National Indigenous Peoples Day, is a day of celebration that recognizes and honours the achievements, history and rich cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. This day has been celebrated as a statutory territorial holiday in the Northwest Territories since 2001 and in the Yukon since 2017.
Although the country took steps towards truth and reconciliation, Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people is still broken. Indigenous communities all over Canada continue to face adversaries, and their human and indigenous rights continues to be violated.
Highlighted below are just some of the dire issues:
Many reserves around the country have been on boiler advisories for decades. State of emergencies have been declared in various First Nations reserves all over the country for the past several years.
Food in Nunavut
According to the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics latest food price survey, people in Nunavut pay two to three times higher than the average Canadian for food and basic necessities.
TB in Nunavut
Tuberculosis rates are 290 times higher for Inuit people than for non-indigenous people in Canada. In the north, infection rates are comparable to that of developing countries. It’s important to note that 85% of the population in Nunavut are Inuit. There are many factors that contribute to infection rates being higher in the north. People in the north are subjected to poorly ventilated overcrowded homes, poverty, poor access to healthcare among other factors.
According to Statistics Canada, suicide rates for Indigenous people are 3 times higher than non-indigenous people. The report stated that suicide rates are higher for
Indigenous people living on reserves than those living off the reserves.
The National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was classified as a race-based genocide. In 2014, Statistics Canada reported Indigenous women were 6 times more likely to be victims of homicide than non-Indigenous women. Also, the RCMP reported over 1100 murdered or missing police-reported cases dated back 40 years.
Foster care system
Indigenous children make up over half of children in the foster care system despite only making up 7% of the population.
Crime in Canada has been declining for the past twenty years. However, Indigenous people are increasingly being disproportionately overrepresented in the prison system. According to Statistics Canada, although Indigenous people make up 5% of the Canadian population, they make up 27% of the prison population in 2016-2017. More than 80% incarcerated minors in Manitoba are indigenous despite making up less than 20% of the population.
Today is a complicated day.
For some, it's celebrating a new home that grants them safety, security, and new opportunities.
For some, it's a reminder of genocide and erasure of their past, present, and future.
Some say it's 152 years of independence.
Some say it's 152 years of resistance.
Happy Decolonization Day.
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