Tourism London is foregoing promoting traditional celebrations due to the ongoing pandemic and “out of respect for recent developments.”
Communities across the country have been cancelling Canada Day celebrations after the remains of 215 children were discovered at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. in late May and an estimated 751 unmarked graves were found at the site of a residential school in Saskatchewan this week.
While the discoveries have drawn widespread attention to the horrors of the residential school system, calls to investigate schools’ grounds have been longstanding.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) requested help funding a series of projects to identify burial site locations of children at residential schools more than a decade ago, in 2009. The roughly $1.5 million funding request was denied by the federal government, led by former prime minister Stephen Harper at the time.
In London, Ont., the London Heritage Council will host The Future Of Canada Day Panel at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29.
“Panelists will include perspectives from Indigenous Peoples, a Canadian historian, a new Canadian, and a museum curator,” the heritage council states.
On Thursday, July 1, hundreds of people are expected to take part in a “walk towards healing on Turtle Island.”
The walk begins at 10 a.m. in Victoria Park with attendees, who are encouraged to wear orange, making their way to Harris Park where they will hold a moment of silence and hear from members of Indigenous communities.
“Each individual who attends the Turtle Island Healing Walk will receive a number representing a child,” the event description reads.
“The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba has now confirmed 4,100 deaths nationwide. On July 1st, 2021, we walk in their honour.”
While over 4,100 deaths are documented, estimates suggest the number could be over 6,000.
Anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience can access this 24-hour, toll-free and confidential National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
— with files from Global News’ Katie Dangerfield and Doyle Potenteau.