Please see the following for a statement from NB NDP Interim Leader Chris Thompson on Canada Day.
“Like many others this Canada Day I decided not to partake in traditional Canada Day celebrations. Today I attended the Indigenous led Resilience Day 2021 event in Fredericton, on Wolastoq territory. Today was a profoundly sad day for many, myself included. We’re struggling with over 1000 children whose bodies were found, whose stories never got to be told, and thousands more who will never be found. Children lost in the tragedy of the genocidal crimes Canadian governments encouraged and legislated.
I learned a lot today at the Resilience Day event. About the importance of family generations to Indigenous people, different perspectives on how to move forward as allied societies, and how to dance.
I’ve also seen and heard differing opinions on what suspending Canada Day celebrations means, and if it’s okay to celebrate Canada Day. Personally, I couldn’t celebrate Canada Day this year, not because of shame, but because of sorrow. I will likely celebrate Canada Day in the future, provided we in the process of making things right.
In this time of reflection I would like to ask people to stop making performative statements condemning those for choosing whether or not to celebrate Canada Day.
Events like these are bigger than your political stripes, or virtue signaling, it’s about how we heal and move forward as a province, and as nations. Education helps people move forward; condemnation only pushes them farther away from where we all need to be.
I would like to accept what many Indigenous communities are telling us. Indigenous and non-Indigenous people need to respect each other, become allies, and build the best future we can nation to nations.
No Canadian should be proud of how we have treated Indigenous people in the past; but we have the ability to be proud of how we treat our Indigenous allies in the future.
What can this look like?
This can symbolic, such as restoring the name of the St. John River to its original name, Wolastoq. It’s also necessary to look at the very real economic and social harms centuries of mistreatment has caused.
Overt, and systemic racism, has caused severe damage to the incomes, and quality-of-life of our Indigenous allies. The good news is that government has the ability to fix this, and it can afford to.
Symbolic gestures are important; but when you push someone down, it’s only right to help them back up.
One example here could be, instead of getting rid of the tax-sharing agreement with First Nations communities the New Brunswick government should be finding ways of getting new revenues to these communities.
Off-reserve Indigenous people are often overlooked, and in a new partnership we must commit to helping all Indigenous people, regardless of where they reside.
I have faith that a day will come when we can all celebrate Canada Day, proud of the work we are doing; in a future where all people on Turtle Island are treated with the dignity they deserve.”
In Solidarity
Chris Thompson
Interim Leader | NB NDP