The drum beats and chants heard in downtown Saskatoon on Canada Day weren’t a celebration of the country.
They were a condemnation of Canada’s racist past and current inequalities, according to a group that assembled in Kiwanis Park on Saturday afternoon for a Cancel Canada Day rally, in concert with hundreds more people attending rallies in Vancouver, Halifax and Hamilton, Ont., among other places.
Read more: Canada Day 2020 goes virtual across B.C.
A banner for the event proclaimed it was “(three) hours of Indigenous resistance and resurgence.”
It was all part of a coordinated effort by Idle No More, a group originally started in 2012 to protest a federal bill the founders’ argued would diminish Indigenous rights.
According to the group’s Twitter page, it opposes “colonial legislation” and supports empowerment.
Erica Violet Lee hosted a Livestream of the events.
“The whole idea is to celebrate Indigenous and Black culture, the culture of migrants and folks who are often left to the side in typical Canada Day celebrations,” she told Global News.
She said the usual acknowledgments and inclusion of minorities on Canada Day, and in Canadian institutions, is meaningless tokenism.
She said the concept of “inclusivity” is often used to silent real dissent, that people often think “if we have one Indigenous person, one Indigenous minister or senator… that somehow Canada changes fundamentally.”
“We need actual change in our communities, which community change starts with us. It starts with not being terrorized by the police driving through our neighbourhoods every day.”
She said the Indigenous governance structures that existed before the foundation of Canada provide a potential model for incorporating and respecting people often excluded.
Mentioning the other demonstrations taking place across North America and around the world, she told Global News that there is a real chance to dismantle systems, like the prison system, health care and social assistance programs, “which are violently brutal towards us, as Black and Indigenous people.