Content Warning: Residential Schools
At REEL CANADA we have always felt that it’s not our place to publicly comment on current events as an organization. We express our values best through our programmes — by amplifying the voices of filmmakers and championing their stories.
However, we cannot stay silent in the face of over 1,000 unmarked graves that have, to date, been found at the sites of former residential schools.
As an organization with “Canada” in its name, it would be especially irresponsible not to raise our voices in support and solidarity with Indigenous people across Turtle Island, and against the atrocities that are coming to light.
REEL CANADA’s mission is to “expose new audiences to the power and diversity of Canadian film and engage them in a discussion of what it means to be Canadian”. At a time like this, it seems that any such discussion must include an acknowledgement that whatever aspect of Canadian life and citizenship one cares to consider, it has come at the cost of unspeakable suffering and hardship of Indigenous peoples.
If there is any hope of taking pride in this country, then it must rest in the most vigorous and committed efforts possible to address these genocidal actions honestly and concretely.
This Canada Day we will not refrain from celebrating Canadian cinematic stories as usual, but, we will also be reflecting on what it means to live on this land. We will be thinking about what role we — collectively and as individuals — can play in righting this wrong and repairing the ongoing harms done to First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. We encourage all non-Indigenous Canadians to do the same.
We also encourage all non-Indigenous Canadians to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.
Lastly, we highly encourage those who can to donate to any of the following organizations:
Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society is a B.C. based organization that provides services like counselling and health and cultural services to survivors of residential schools.
True North Aid provides practical humanitarian support to Indigenous communities in Canada.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is an Ottawa-based organization aiming to improve the health and well-being of Inuit.
If you are a former residential school student in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, or the Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll-free line at 1-800-721-0066.