How Manitobans are honouring Indigenous lives this Canada Day

Thursday is Canada Day, a holiday typically celebrated with barbecues and fireworks, but in the wake of hundreds of unmarked graves being discovered at former residential schools across the country, it's looking different from previous years.

Another COVID-19 Canada Day, The Forks was already planning to hold a virtual celebration, but news of unmarked residential school graves has changed the program.

"Our site itself has a 6000-year history and indigenous people are at the heart of that. So it's always important for us to acknowledge and ensure we are doing the right things," said Clare MacKay, vice president of strategic initiatives and executive director of The Forks Foundation

The Forks is adding in a moment of silence for residential school victims along with a message from its indigenous interpreter.

The virtual Canada Day celebration can be viewed on The Forks’ Facebook and YouTube pages from 1-8 p.m. Wednesday.

Honouring indigenous lives this Canada Day is a growing trend among Winnipeggers.

Michelle Cameron, the owner of the newly opened Indigenous Nations Apparel Company (INAC) in CF Polo Park, said there's a Canada-wide shortage of orange shirts as people forgo the classic red and white.

"Literally flying off the shelves. As we're printing them, they're going out. We've sold hundreds in the last couple of weeks just to keep up," said Cameron.

Cameron said seeing the support is a promising sign.

"To see everybody taking part, doing their part, and wearing an orange shirt, it means they understand and hear the story we've been telling for so many years and now know our Canadian history," she said.

On top of wearing orange, several walks supporting Indigenous people are planned for July 1.

Tréchelle Bunn is in charge of one walk from the former Birtle Residential School to her home 23 kilometres away in Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation.

It's a symbolic walk as her grandparents were taken at the age of five and sent to the school.

"When he was a the Birtle Residential School, he wanted nothing more to return home, but he was denied that opportunity to ever return home," said Bunn.

Bunn said even if your Canada Day plans remain the same as every year, it's important to have a moment of reflection.

"As the country of Canada, we need to take a step forward and actually take action. Starting with learning history, supporting indigenous business, taking classes and doing whatever you can to educate yourself is where we should start," said Bunn.