Letter to the Editor: Proposed Indigenous Statutory Holiday should be in May
- George and Terry Goulet | September 09, 2018
We understand that the Government is giving serious consideration to establishing an Indian Residential Schools Survivors Remembrance Day. We applaud the Government's thoughtfulness in this respect. However, it limits the Government’s contrition to only the children that were interned in the Residential Schools and does not bring closure to those children and their families that were severely damaged by Government policies and procedures under certain other conditions. Consequently, we are hereby submitting the following observations.
1. This step by the Government for Reconciliation with the Indigenous Residential School Survivors omits: (i) First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who were day pupils at the Residential Schools and were excluded from the Truth and Reconciliation process; (ii) Métis children (such as George Goulet's father) who were placed in Residential Orphanages as children (these Residential Orphanages were Residential Schools by another name); (iii) Metis, First Nation and Inuit children who were taken up in the Sixties Scoop; (iv) Indigenous children that were placed in TB Sanitariums for health reasons; (v) Indigenous children that were used as human guinea pigs in medical experiments in medical facilities; and (vi) other Indigenous children who have been, and continue to be, discriminated against because of their Indigenous identity.
2. Pursuant to Recommendation 80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Report a Statutory Holiday should be created to commemorate the history and legacy of the Residential Schools. It should also be about reflecting on a path towards reconciliation. However racial abuse was not limited to First Nations, it was applicable to members of all Indigenous Peoples named in Section 35 of the 1982 Constitution. Also this State-Sponsored Abuse was not limited to the Residential Schools, therefore the Government needs to recognize and address all of the Abuse. Consequently Reconciliation must not be limited to Residential School survivors. These other abused Indigenous Peoples must also be commemorated in this new Statutory Holiday
3. The date of this proposed National Statutory Indigenous Holiday should not be June 21st, National Indigenous Peoples Day, that is celebrated by First Nation, Metis and Inuit Peoples. June 21st must be a separate Statutory Holiday of Recognition and Celebration of Indigenous Cultures, Heritage and Languages. It should not be a day of mourning the past sexual, physical and emotional abuse of Indigenous Peoples.
4. September 30 (Orange Shirt Day) has been mentioned as a possible alternate date for the new Statutory Holiday. However, since there would undoubtedly be vehement criticism of two new statutory holidays, consider changing the name of Victoria Day in May to one of the proposed new statutory holidays. This would also serve an indirect purpose by getting rid of a vestige of British colonialism and the discrimination against all Indigenous Peoples that evolved from it. Although this may foster political outrage from the monarchists, so be it.
5. The Government of Canada can achieve true and lasting Indigenous Reconciliation by passing Federal legislation to require the Government to meet its primary responsibility to ensure that all Indigenous Peoples receive the necessities of life. Among other responsibilities, the immediate duty and obligation of the Government is to ensure that all Indigenous Peoples of Canada are equitably provided with (i) safe drinking water and basic sanitation; (ii) safe and appropriate housing; (iii) affordable and available food; (iv) free medical and dental care and medication; and (v) education.
LONG LIVE THE MÉTIS.