Two different marches designed to highlight the suffering of Indigenous people at the hands of the Residential School system will seek to repurpose July 1 as a day to remember the those who lost their loves, as well as the survivors and their descendants.
The director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal will be one of the keynote speakers and organizers of a vigil that will wind its way from Jeanne Mance Park to Place du Canada.
“I want everyone to show up, because actions speaker louder than words,” Nakuset said. “I want the government to see the crowds and be forced to release these records, to help dig up these graves in Residential Schools.”
The horrors of the Residential School system are no surprise to Indigenous people, and the discovery of hundreds of bodies in unmarked graves near such institutions in B.C. and Saskatchewan in recent weeks have spurred interest in setting the record straight with the non-Indigenous population in Canada.
“So many children died, and priests, nuns, Indian agents, they all said nothing, they covered it up, threw them in anonymous graves and never told their parents what happened to them,” Nakuset said,
The attention brought to the topic by mainstream media has shone new light on the inhumanity of the Residential Schools system and the intergenerational trauma suffered by those who lived through them and their families and descendants.
The Assembly of First Nations for Quebec and Labrador will also repurpose July 1 as a day of remembering victims of Residential Schools with a march and a vigil in honour of those who lost their lives as victims of the federal government’s colonial policies.
"Obviously, the choice of July 1is not a coincidence. Our hearts are certainly not in Canada Day celebrations,” said AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard. The AFNQL march will take place at Place Jean-Béliveau in Quebec City (ExpoCité), on the site of KWE! Meet with Indigenous Peoples, at 4 p.m.
Picard encouraged anyone who can to come to the march and support those who are still reliving the nightmares forced upon them by being institutionalized.
“We invite everyone to mobilize to highlight the importance of paying our respects and offering all our support to our sister nations who are going through extremely difficult times. We will honour their memory with respect, dignity and kindness," Picard said.
The event will also be broadcast live on the AFNQL’s Facebook page.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase