Indigenous community in Hamilton plans ‘Day of Love’ on July 1

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Published June 30, 2021 at 3:09 am

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The Indigenous community in Hamilton says it will hold a ‘Day of Love’ on Thursday, as an alternative to Canada Day.

The gathering is planned for 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Pier 4 in Bayfront Park, near downtown Hamilton.

“We will not be celebrating Canada but rather creating space for song, for prayer, for medicines and for laughter,” a social media posting shared by Jordan Carrier, a Plains Cree activist, reads in part.

“There is no agenda. Just a space on the land and with community.”

The ongoing harm to many Indigenous people caused by Canada’s residential school system has been in the media and public spotlight for weeks. On May 27, the remains of at least 215 children were confirmed to be found in Kamloops, B.C., at the site of one of the schools. It is also believed that an earlier estimate that some 4,100 Indigenous children who were forced to attend the schools had disappeared might be much too low.

On Tuesday, Ktunaxa Nation confirmed that 182 human remains had been found at the site of St. Eugene’s Mission Residential School in eastern British Columbia.

Several communities, including Charlottetown, Kingston, Ont., and Saskatoon, have removed statues of Sir John A. Macdonald or voted to rename schools or streets named after him. Macdonald was involved in creating the residential school system while he was Canada’s prime minister in the 19th century.

It is unclear if similar measures will be taken in Hamilton, where there is a statue of Macdonald in Gore Park downtown.

The Macdonald statue was covered with black fabric during a gathering of about 125 people held on June 20, which was the eve of National Indigenous Peoples Day. It was removed within 48 hours — not by city workers, but by a group of young men. Members of the group are white nationalists, according to reports at multiple media portals.

On June 24, Cowessess First Nation confirmed that the remains of 751 Indigenous children had been found in unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in southeast Saskatchewan. The following day, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger ordered that flags on municipal buildings would be flown at half-mast to commemorate the victims.

Both Durham Region and St. Catharines have said they will not host Canada Day events on Thursday.

People who need emotional support or assistance can contact the Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll-free at 1-800-721-0066. The society also offers a 24-hour crisis line at 1-866-925-4419. 

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