This year’s Canada Day is likely to be somber. The country is reeling from the discovery of the remains of children in hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools for Indigenous children. Adam North Peigan, president of Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society Alberta—an organization of residential school survivors—called on Canadians to use July 1 to participate in Indigenous-led celebrations and learn more about Canada’s history, the Calgary Herald reports. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for a time of reflection and asked for people to pledge to make Canada better.
Some Canadians don’t want the holiday canceled altogether, and want an opportunity to celebrate the country’s progress, the CBC reports. Indigenous activist Evans Yellow Old Woman disagrees. "If you knew that your neighbor was grieving a lost loved one, you wouldn’t throw a huge party in your backyard and set off fireworks," he says. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in 2015 to investigate what happened at the residential schools. Murray Sinclair, who led the commission, says he thinks more than 10,000 children disappeared, the New York Times reports. Starting in the 19th century and into the ‘70s, Indigenous children were taken from their families and sent by the Canadian government to schools operated by churches to forcibly assimilate them. (Read more residential schools stories.)