Column: Critiques of Canada Day should make us re-examine Independence Day

Helena Edwards, Opinions Writer

My heart has recently been heavy after I learned about the horrors of residential schools in Canada. I believe the Pope must recognize the pain that residential schools have brought and apologize and provide support for these communities.  

This year, members of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation found 215 children in an unmarked grave at the Kamloops school operated by the Roman Catholic Church until 1969. 

In June, an additional 751 bodies, mainly children, had been found in unmarked graves on the site of a former boarding school in Saskatchewan. 

More information includes the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluding that at least 4,100 students died while attending residential schools. 

It is a shame that I’ve had to find education through my own means instead of learning about this through school. I’ve learned through indigenous people on TikTok as well as films like “Nolan: Here Nor There.” 

Around 150,000 indigenous children were made to attend state-funded and church-run schools. There, they were forced to assimilate into Canadian society as well as Christianity. 

Along with being subjected to unsanitary conditions after being forcibly separated from their parents, they were forbidden from speaking native languages and practicing traditions as well as suffering physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. 

While the Prime Minister of Canada has acted by providing apologies as well as support for finding bodies and Pope Francis has agreed to talk to indigenous leaders later this year, there is still a long way to go to reconcile the pain the Catholic Church has brought. 

This history of abuse has led to epidemic rates of drug addiction, alcoholism, and suicide on reservations. 

More must be done for them, and we are all responsible if we continue to turn a blind eye to this. 

As many have stopped celebrating Canada Day since it blankets over colonization, cultural genocide and abuse against indigenous peoples, I believe it is time for us to examine America’s Independence Day.  

Fourth of July was independence for 13 colonies, but just like Thanksgiving, we turn a blind eye to what followed these holidays: land stealing and genocide. It was not independence for all. 

We celebrate a day of independence, but is there true independence on a land that was stolen?  

Is there true independence on a land that was paved by the blood of minorities? 

I personally don’t support Fourth of July as a holiday along with Thanksgiving. I’m fine with them being treated as a way to celebrate family, but their origins are rooted in evils. They ought to be reformed and the truth of them should be taught in schools. 

Helena Edwards can be reached at [email protected]