Artwork by ISF alumnus Maynard Johnny Jr.
THOUGHTS ON CANADA DAY
Our work as an organization is to present arts events. The purpose of our work is to question ideas of racial and cultural purity, nationalism while making space for difference, and bridging cultural and ideological gaps.
In the past weeks, mass unmarked graves of Indigenous children are being revealed to non-Indigenous people, despite Indigenous people speaking of this truth for decades. New sites continue to be found all across the country as we approach July 1st.
As an organization that amplifies the voices of South Asian artists, we know very well the lasting effects of colonization – in South Asia and here in Canada. It is felt not only in policies and laws but in our language (or not being able to speak it), the food we eat (or are prevented from eating), in our bodies, and in our families. The disturbing evidence of these mass unmarked graves we are seeing and the terrifying stories of abuse in residential schools we are hearing are things that no one should ignore. These stories may be shocking to many, who may have moved to Canada from another place, or who have not been told these stories growing up, but these truths have been hidden intentionally. We are compelled to ask ourselves – what are we celebrating when we celebrate Canada Day? Should we instead be doing everything in our power to make this right?
Here are some asks that have come from Indigenous organizers for how to be in solidarity today.
- Since Canada Day is a statutory holiday recognized by the state, consider donating your “holiday” wages or any amount to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society: https://www.irsss.ca/donate
- Listen to Indigenous people.