Last Thursday, the Chief of the Cowessess First Nation Cadmus Delorme announced the discovery of 751 unmarked graves of mostly Indigenous children at the cemetery of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in the southeast corner of the Saskatchewan province.
In a statement, the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Canada (Parti Comuniste du Canada) points out that "July 1 is not a day for celebrations" thus joining the voices that call for the cancellation of the celebrations for "Canada Day". The Party's statement reads:
The tragic discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval residential school in Saskatchewan is a powerful reminder that this was not simply a “dark chapter” in the history of Canada. For over a century, these institutions were a crucial piece of the genocidal white supremacist drive to assimilate Indigenous peoples by destroying languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs. Today’s imperialist Canadian state has its origins in the colonial seizure of Indigenous lands and the capitalist exploitation of the working class, bringing vast wealth to a handful of millionaires and billionaires, but death and destruction to the First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples.
This story is no secret – it is an integral part of the historical knowledge of Indigenous peoples, and the fully-documented subject of research by growing numbers of scholars. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported six years ago that thousands of Indigenous children were known to have died in the residential schools, and that the actual total would be much higher. Similar findings were contained in “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”
Among the TRC “Calls to Action” were a series of items specifically in the category of “Missing Children and Burial Information”. These include full disclosure of all relevant records on the deaths of Indigenous children, sufficient government resources to develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register established by the TRC, an online registry of residential school cemeteries, and a range of other measures to identify and memorialize burial sites.
PM Trudeau promised to fully implement the TRC Calls to Action, but the majority of these have not been carried out, even while his government spends billions on supports for the fossil fuel industry and on fighter-bombers and other weapons of war. Eventually, First Nations are using their own resources for the technology necessary to identify the unmarked graves at Kamloops, Marieval, and other residential school grounds.
The shameful actions by Justin Trudeau and generations of Canadian politicians have led to the current situation, and the cancellation of Canada Day events across the country as demanded by Idle No More and Indigenous peoples. July 1 is not a day for celebrations – it must be an occasion to reflect on the true history of racism and genocide in Canada.
The Communist Party of Canada extends our deepest condolences to all Indigenous peoples who suffer the ongoing consequences of the residential school system, the removal of Indigenous children from their families, and other racist policies and actions by the Canadian state. We restate our firm commitment to the struggle to fully implement the Calls for Action by the TRC and the recommendations of the “Reclaiming Power and Place” report.
Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada.