The discovery of the remains of 215 children, buried in unmarked graves at the Kamloops residential school, has profoundly shocked the Canadian conscience. Statues of John A. Macdonald and Egerton Ryerson, architects of the residential school system, have been removed by both fiat and force. Demands for an apology from the Catholic Church grow ever louder. And the hashtag #cancelCanadaDay is now trending on social media.
While the pain behind these responses is undeniable, and those terrible acts that inspired them are inexcusable, cancelling the day that recognizes Canada’s creation would be a mistake. Cancellation does not beget reconciliation. It sows anger, not atonement. It drives underground the very feelings of division it seeks to destroy, instead of exposing them to the light of day, rooting them out and moving forward.
It also erases the foundation on which reconciliation can be built. Our country is facing a long overdue moment of reckoning, a time to acknowledge its failures, and the work to come. To rise to this occasion, both as state and citizens, we need a foundation, not a vacuum. We can draw strength from our achievements and the values which inspired them — values that are commemorated on Canada Day.