Candlelight vigil, smudge walk planned by Sask. Indigenous groups to mark Canada Day

On Canada Day, Indigenous people from around the province will be holding events to highlight Canada's role in residential schools.

Indigenous people say important to remember Canada's past during national holiday

A candlelight vigil will be held on Canada Day in Regina to remember children who never returned from residential schools. (Nicholas Frew/CBC)

On Canada Day, Indigenous people from around the province will be holding events to highlight Canada's role in residential schools.

On Thursday, members of the First Nations University of Canada's (FNUniv's) students association will be holding a smudge walk on campus in Regina. There will also be a candlelight vigil at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building.

The events were organized after Cowessess First Nation's announcement last week of the preliminary discovery of 751 unmarked graves near the former Marieval Residential School.

"I've noticed many of our students are hurting," said FNUniv student Micah Stonechild.

"Many of our students have been triggered and been retraumatized."

Stonechild says this year's Canada Day is a good time to think back on this country's past and come to terms with how it's impacting people today.

"It's not even the past, it's still happening," she said. "We can look at the child welfare system. That's a big part for me becoming an Indigenous social worker, because we feel as though the child welfare system is the new residential school."

Meanwhile, some Indigenous people believe that all Canada Day celebrations should not move forward this year.

"Canada Day should be cancelled across Canada, and we should remember our children that are being found in the residential school areas," said candlelight vigil organizer Star Andreas.

"It's a sad day for Canada." 

Bring Them Home

In Saskatoon, people will be gathering in Kiwanis Park for an event called Bring Them Home that will focus on the legacy of residential schools.

Organizer Allison Forsberg doesn't believe anyone should be celebrating a traditional Canada Day this year.

"If we look at everything around us in this country, it is all built from the attempted eradication of Indigenous people," she said. 

"I'm ashamed to be part of a country that has caused so much hurt."

Forsberg is bringing in speakers, including a woman from the Cowessess First Nation, to talk about their experiences.

"I think that's really important to go and provide people a voice," she said. "It's really important to have someone who could share their experience."

The FNUniv students' association smudge walk is Thursday night at 7 p.m. CST on the university's campus in Regina.

The candlelight vigil will begin at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum at 6:15 p.m. CST and will proceed to the Sask. Legislative Building. People are asked to wear orange shirts.

The Bring Them Home event will be held in Kiwanis Park in Saskatoon at 11 a.m. CST.