Demonstrators call to 'Cancel Canada Day' during march in downtown Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- On a day many Canadians are happy to show off their national pride and enjoy a holiday with loved ones, around 200 demonstrators gathered in downtown Vancouver Wednesday afternoon to draw attention to the grim side of our nation’s history.
Organized by Idle No More, an Indigenous-led organization that’s known for protesting against pipelines and in support of environmental protections and aboriginal rights, #CancelCanadaDay events are taking place at several Canadian cities as the hashtag goes viral on social media. Vancouver's event started at 3 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Participants kept their distance from each other and most people wore masks.
“We will not celebrate stolen indigenous land and stolen indigenous lives,” reads the group’s webpage on the event. “Instead we will gather to honour all of the lives lost to the Canadian State – Indigenous lives, Black Lives, Migrant lives, Women and Trans and 2Spirit lives – all of the relatives that we have lost.”
Speakers at the event spoke about experiencing discrimination, the high rate of Indigenous children who are removed from their families by child protection workers, and the inability of many First Nations communities to access clean drinking water.
A video on their Facebook page explains the sentiment behind the movement, including the idea that “we don’t celebrate Canada Day for the same reason we don’t celebrate the holocaust.”
The peaceful demonstration is scheduled to begin at the art gallery, then turn into a march to an undisclosed location at 5 p.m.
The Facebook page for the event shows 2,700 people interested in the event and more than 600 who have selected the “going” option.
National Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde spoke with CTV News Channel Wednesday, where he said much progress needs to be made in Canada when it comes to equality for Indigenous people.
“There is a huge divide that must be closed, and we can only close that divide… by working together and have kindness and love and respect for each other as human beings,” he said. “We need more and more First Nations people around decision making tables... once you get more people around those decision-making tables we see ourselves in the system and that will lead to better legislation and better policy moving forward.”