'Today is about bringing awareness': Hundreds gather to remember residential school survivors on Canada Day

Traditional red and white colours usually seen at Kiwanis Memorial Park on Canada Day were replaced with orange to show solidarity for residential school survivors.

Timi Adelugba is someone attended the event saying it felt really important to come and support Indigenous people.

“Because the Canadian government has been overlooking them for so long. It’s time that we listen to their concerns and what they have to say,” Adelugba said.

Chokecherry Studios held the cancelation of Canada Day event at Kiwanis Memorial Park. The event featured a feast, pipe ceremony, music, pancake breakfast, smudge walk, a gathering in the park and candle light vigil to honour those who died in residential schools.

Blacklives Matter YXE and Islamic Relief Canada also partnered with Chokecherry studios to put on the event.

“Today is about bringing awareness about what was done in residential schools, what was wrong and are people are strong and resilient and we come together in time likes this,” said event partner Storm Night.

Storm Night's mom and grandmother both attended residential school making July 1 even more significant to them.

“We believe Canada Day shouldn’t be celebrated. What is there to celebrate when their gravesites were found at residential school?”

The people gathered at Kiwanis Memorial Park heard from several speakers who took to the Vimy Memorial Bandstand to discuss the Indigenous issues that they continue to face.

“I wanted to share with the people today that it’s important that we re-find those ways,” said speaker Michael Linklater.

“We’ve had ceremony on this land long before settlers came, with residential school stripping that and denying that from our ancestors, you know a lot of our people have become lost without their ways.”

Allison Forsberg who is First Nations organized a “Bring Them Home” event, which also called for the cancellation of Canada Day.

It featured several speakers, including from Cowessess First Nation where 751 unmarked graves were found near a residential school last week. On Wednesday, the Lower Kootenay Band announced the remains of 182 unmarked graves were found close to the former St. Eugene's Mission School near Cranbrook.

Adelugba emphasizes the importance of taking the day to remember the lives lost.

“I definitely think that we should wear orange and not do our normal Canada Day activities because we're celebrating the wrong thing.”