#CancelCanadaDay events planned across the country on 153rd anniversary of Confederation

There's growing public awareness of genocide perpetrated against Indigenous people dating back to Christopher Columbus's arrival in the "New World"

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      "Resisting colonialism is an essential service."

      That's one of the messages from the organizers of #CancelCanadaDay, which is being billed as three hours of Indigenous resistance and resurgence in six Canadian cities

      The Vancouver Facebook page for #CancelCanadaDay says people can gather in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery (750 Hornby Street) from 3 to 6 p.m.

      Participants are encouraged to wear masks, stay apart, and respect physical distancing.

      It's being hosted by Black Lives Matter and Idle No More.

      In addition, there will be a live feed from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time with updates from the Wet'suwet'en, Tiny House Warriors, Kanehsatà:ke, Aamjiwnaang, and No More Silence.

      Hosted by Erica Lee, it will also include conversations with Indigenous leaders Ellen Gabriel, Molly Wickham, Kanahus Manuel, Audrey Huntley, Vanessa Gray, Amy Smoke, Alex Wilson, and Shawn Johnson.

      Music will be provided by Leonard Sumner, T-Rhyme, Eekwol, Drezus, Tenille Campbell, Kimmortal, and Dakota Bear.

      Video: Ellen Gabriel talks about the meaning of decolonization.

      Genocide accompanied colonization

      Ever since the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, Indigenous people have faced genocidal attacks.

      The horrors of Columbus are covered extensively in the first chapter of historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, which was written in 1980 and released in paperback in 2005.

      In the second chapter, Zinn's book offered a devastating analysis of the slave trade and how anti-Black racism was promoted in the 13 U.S. colonies that originally formed the United States.

      North of the border, the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada outlined how the government-promoted Indian residential school system was "cultural genocide".

      Three years later, Vancouver Métis lawyer Breen Ouellette criticized the term "cultural genocide", maintaining that this "whitewashes Canada's history of violence".

      He pointed out in a blog post that the bureaucrat overseeing the residential-school policy, Duncan Campbell Scott, wrote about the need for a "final solution of our Indian Problem".

      "The Canadian government knowingly caused the deaths of thousands of Indigenous children in the residential schools system," Ouellette wrote in his post. "The alarm was first sounded around 1907 by Peter Bryce, Chief Medical Officer for the Departments of the Interior and Indian Affairs. He spent years trying to get Canada to respond to the alarming rate of deaths at residential schools." 

      Ouellette worked for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, resigning almost a year before it issued its final report.

      There have been many memorials held in Vancouver over the years for missing and murdered Indigenous women, including this one in 2016.
      Amanda Siebert

      A tragedy of epic proportions

      In 2019, the MMIWG inquiry concluded that Canada carried out "deliberate race, identity, and gender-based genocide" against Indigenous women and girls, according to international law.

      "The violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people is a national tragedy of epic proportions," Chief Commissioner Marion Buller declared in her opening comments. "Also part of this national tragedy is governments' refusal to grant the National Inquiry the full two-year extension requested. In doing so, governments chose to leave many truths unspoken and unknown."

      The report pointed out that nobody knows how many Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people went missing or were murdered.

      "The fact that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples are still here and that the population is growing should not discount the charge of genocide; the resilience and continued growth of these populations don't discount the many actions detailed within this report, both historical and contemporary, that have contributed to endemic violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people," it stated.

      Gidimt'en Clan member Molly Wickham explained in January how Wet'suwet'en traditional territories are governed.