Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day, is known as the nation’s birthday and marks the anniversary of the formation of the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1868, 144 years ago.
Some of the aboriginals who have watched that history unfold are conflicted on whether to celebrate this day as their own. They are in many ways unwilling hosts to the Guests Who’ll Never Leave—descendants of the white settlers who invaded their turf, pushed them onto relatively small tracts of land and now are taking their time implementing longstanding land treaties.
As Ottawa lights up with the presence of newly minted Royal Couple William and Kate on their first international trip as marrieds, the U.S. magazine The Atlantic is asking, Shouldn’t Canada have its own king and queen, someone from that land? Among the names the U.S. magazine throws out in jest is Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
“Really, if anyone is going to be King of Canada, it ought to be a representative of its many indigenous peoples,” the magazine said.
Although plenty of aboriginals celebrate Canada’s birthday, there are those who do not feel like citizens and therefore do not see the point. It may not help that a scan of the government’s Canada Day and heritage pages unearths few symbols linking aboriginals to the nation’s founding. Granted, they have their own day, the June 21 holiday coinciding more or less with the solstice. But by the time Canada Day arrives, it’s all about the British and the French.
Punctuating that is the July 1 wrapup of the latest National Event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), charged with recording and commemorating the stories of residential school survivors and educating Canadians on what transpired during that chapter of the country’s history. Inuvik, Northwest Territories, is the venue for this second of seven hearings. More than 1,000 survivors of those schools gathered to show the rest of Canada what it was like to be ripped from their families and give testimony that at least anecdotally links that trauma to subsequent years of suffering.
But celebrations are planned nationwide, from Nunavut to British Columbia and everywhere in between. The nation’s capital has many events listed, as do the major cities.