Niagara Regional Native Centre not celebrating Canada Day

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Published June 29, 2021 at 3:13 pm

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After the horrifying revelation of over 960 childrens’ bodies in unmarked graves being found at the sites of former Indigenous residential schools in BC and Saskatchewan, the Niagara Regional Native Centre will not celebrate Canada Day this year.

On their Facebook page, the centre, located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, posted their decision, saying, “As the recent ongoing discoveries (of the graves) continue to unfold, it is evident the extent of harm committed to our (Indiginous) peoples far surpasses Canada’s greater understanding.”

For this reason, we chose not to celebrate Canada and instead honour our ancestors.”

They continued that they will be open on Canada Day but closed July 2 “to give our staff time to reflect and heal as we move forward together, stronger.”

The centre is in the midst of a “7 Day Healing Fire” being held at the back of their Airport Road facility. The healing fire will end at sunrise on July 2.

After St Catharines City Council announced on June 28 they would be cancelling all Canada Day celebrations, choosing instead to honour the Indigenous community within Niagara Region, Mayor Walter Sendzik said July 1 was not a day to take pride but rather a “moment for reflection, education and reconciliation.”

He pointed to visiting the healing fire as a welcome start towards reconciliation.

“With the additional discoveries of unmarked graves there has been an outpouring of support for our Indigenous community,” Sendzik said on his Facebook page. “The healing fire is a place that is open to the community.”

“This is an opportunity to learn, listen and pay respects. History being uncovered is a living history and the impact on our Indigenous brothers, sisters and two-spirited runs deep.”

The centre itself echoed this sentiment, posting, “stop by and see the firekeepers at the healing fire. We will go until July 2 at sunrise here at NRNC at the back of the property. All are welcome.”

The centre is located at 382 Airport Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

(Photo courtesy of the Niagara Regional Native Centre Facebook page)

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