This Thursday, July 1st is a statutory holiday, and our offices will be closed. There will also be no Van service on July 1st. Programs and service will resume as normal on Friday, July 2nd.
Although we will be closed, we wish to recognize that in light of recent events, many of us are not feeling very festive. Recently discovered evidence of lethal violence committed against Indigenous children on this land have given many of us pause. These abuses and the resulting deaths of thousands of children have been long known to have taken place, and are now in the spotlight due to the discovery of graves on former forced assimilation sites (often referred to as ‘Residential Schools’). As an AIDS Service Organization, in the course of our work supporting the people we help, we directly observe and respond to the impacts of colonization, particularly the trauma caused by forced assimilation facilities, and many of us see little to celebrate and much work to be done.
This July 1st, we encourage our friends and neighbors to take pause and join us in educating ourselves, engaging in self-reflection, and participating in calls to action. A good place to start is to familiarize yourself with the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, especially the Calls to Action in the report’s recommendations.
Educate yourself about forced assimilation facilities that operated in your area. In our catchment area, The Mohawk Institute in what is now known as Brantford was the oldest facility of its kind in Canada, provided the template for more of these facilities, and it operated until 1970.
Another thing you can do is write your Member of Parliament (find your MP here https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en ) to ask them to support implementing the recommendations coming out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report. An especially timely recommendation at this time would be to support Indigenous communities by providing the means to conduct searches of former residential school sites to locate graves, in order to give a proper burial to any more children whose remains are still undiscovered. A great template letter can be found here.