Fort Chipewyan Métis Association

“Fireworks at a time like this?” Statement from President of Fort Chipewyan Métis Local #125, on Canada Day Celebrations

Fort Chipewyan, Alberta (June 30, 2021) Fort Chipewyan Métis Association (“Fort Chip”) unequivocally stands with Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) in their decision to institute a day of remembrance and reflection on Thursday rather than engage in Canada Day celebrations.

 President of Fort Chipewyan Métis Association Kendrick Cardinal shared this decision and the following message for membership and the general public:

We believe it would be inappropriate to engage in jovial and celebratory Canada Day events this year. It has been a little over a month since the discovery that rocked the country. On May 28th, 2021, the Chief of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced 215 students had been found in the ground at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. We were dismayed. The world was shocked. And we stood with the Secwepemc Nation then in their grief at their discovery and the job they still have ahead of them of identifying the children put in the ground at that Residential School. And we knew, with sadness—as many who listened to the stories of their ancestors knew—there were more children to be found.  Then Brandon happened. And Marieval happened.   And more investigations are starting every day. There is a change in the weather and these things cannot stay hidden any longer.

It has been a little less than a week since the last discovery in Marieval. Over 700 bodies in the ground.

We know people like to celebrate. We like to celebrate, too. But we cannot celebrate this year when the object of our celebration buried our children in unmarked graves. It is in that light we implore our membership, our town of Fort Chipewyan, our nation of Canada—we implore you to be with us on July 1st  to honour those children found and those still to be found.

Meanwhile, we are coming together with both MCFN and ACFN to begin our own investigations. There are grounds in our area—in areas all across this land—waiting to be probed, with deep secrets and our buried children under there who will stay lost no longer. We will work together with Elders and the community at large to find them. We will not disappoint them. 

We ask our community to take this day to reflect on the history of Canada—of the residential school system, the Sixties Scoop, the destruction of Moccasin Flats, and missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. Please, reach out to government and church leaders. Please, urge those leaders to come to the table with Indigenous communities to discuss reconciliation, which must always start with the truth.

Now is not the time for fireworks. Not for us. On July the first, we stand with MCFN, ACFN, as well as other Indigenous people and allies across this land to honour and remember our lost children in a day to remember and reflect on the truth of our collective history. We ask that you join us.

This is obviously a highly sensitive and triggering discussion, centred around unbelievably tragic events. I encourage everyone who needs someone to talk to not to hesitate, and to instead connect. Here are a few numbers where people are available to help: 

  • Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society: 1.866.925.4419
  • Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1‑855‑242-3310 or chat online with a counsellor at helpforwellness.ca
  • Kids Help Phone: 1.800.668.6868 or text 686868

 

Sincerely,

Kendrick Cardinal

President, Fort Chipewyan Métis Local #125 (“Fort Chip”)

 

About Fort Chip

Fort Chip Métis Local #125 (“Fort Chip Métis”) is located in the oldest consecutively inhabited settlement in Alberta. It was established to preserve and promote Métis Culture, and provides services for the Métis people of Fort Chipewyan.