There has been talk of the need to listen to the stories that have come out of the Residential Schools; to listen to the survivors, to build respect and reconciliation.
But aside from lowering flags to half-staff and describing this Canada Day as a day of national reflection, there has been little concrete action on the part of Canada’s federal government.
The very least the Canadian government can do is to return the children who perished at Residential Schools across the country to their families and communities.
It is incumbent upon this government to address the historic and more recent wrongs and to do whatever is needed to find and identify every child who died while in the custody of a government-sanctioned residential school - no matter what it takes.
If other jurisdictions can spend time and money identifying victims of violence, through DNA technology, then the Canadian government can spend the time and money to identify these youngest victims of neglect, abuse, cruelty, and racist policies.
As Canada Day approaches, I can say that I am proud to be a Canadian, proud of what Canada has accomplished in terms of attempting to build a more equitable country that recognizes rule of law and strives to be fair. But I would be so much prouder if Canada would live up to its lofty ideals, and truly address the inequities and systemic racism that too long have been hidden in plain view.
I would be prouder if Canada followed the lead of Ontario and Alberta, in setting aside funds to identify and return the bodies of the young victims. If it addressed the existing inequities in education funding to create a level playing field for First Nations and Aboriginal students. If it ensured that access to clean water, nutritious food, and health services were truly universal.
I am a proud Canadian, but I also bear a part of the shame and the sorrow associated with the Residential schools. We as Canadians need to know and understand this part of our history, face it, understand the long-lasting and multigenerational impact of tearing children from their families and subjecting them to abuse and do better.
Something to reflect upon, this Canada Day.