Perth to show solidarity with Indigenous community in Canada Day video

Children at the Kamloops Indian residential school
Children at the Kamloops Indian residential school in British Columbia in 1931. Photograph: National Center For Truth And Reconciliation/EPA
Posted on: June 24, 2021

In light of the recent devastating discovery of children’s bodies in mass graves in residential schools, Director of Community Services Shannon Baillon recommended on Tuesday evening to town council that an addition be made to Perth’s Canada Day celebration video. (Due to Covid-19, celebrations for Canada Day 2021 in Perth were canceled. In lieu of a celebration, the town has been working on creating a Canada Day Video.) 

To mark the discovery of the murders of hundreds of Indigenous children across Canada this year, Baillon requested that council approve the inclusion of “a statement recognizing the Indigenous People of Canada and the need for truth and reconciliation” at the beginning of the Canada Day video.  “We felt, given everything that’s happened with the residential school in Kamloops and the discovery there, that it would be a good thing,” said Baillon.

The paragraph to be added reads: Canada Day 2021 is an opportunity to show solidarity and to reflect on how to heal from the past mistakes. We would like to encourage everyone to take some time to understand more about truth and reconciliation with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and how we can strengthen the ties that unite us all. With real actions we can heal together and make a better future for everyone.

Baillon noted that this message is not a replacement for the Canada Day celebration. “The video will contain messages from the mayor, interviews and photos and fireworks; this paragraph will be a 15-second part of the video.”

Councillor Brock McPherson was in favour of the suggestion. “I think it’s a good idea to include in our video … I think it’s timely and top of mind.” Mayor Fenik also supported the addition, and Deputy Mayor McPherson added, “I agree with the statement. We have to be leaders; I think this shows leadership by our council to show we support this issue. I’m going to support it.”

Councillor Cameron did not support the inclusion of this paragraph in the Canada Day video. “I am all for truth and reconciliation, but I feel this is one circumstance that I do not agree with. This is Canada Day; the anniversary of confederation. The colonies were united to be the Dominion of Canada. There has been a lot of desecration of statues and things removed from our history […] Other groups have special days that are special to them; Canada Day is for everyone.”

Mayor Fenik was quick to reply.  “I can tell you without reservation, Councillor Cameron, that I disagree with you. The founding fathers of Canada are responsible for the genocide of First Nations people. We’re just uncovering the extent of these horrors now.”

Council voted 6-1 in favour of including this paragraph in the town’s video celebrating Canada Day 2021.

Article by Janelle Labelle

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News