This Canada Day I invite you to reflect on Canada’s colonial history and the impact this has had on Indigenous Peoples across the nation. We have much to learn and to un-learn about the foundations and history of our country as we work towards a shared future built on trust and respect.
For fifty years, ICA has worked to make the Greater Victoria area a safe and welcoming place for newcomers to Canada. Until 2006, ICA took a central role in Victoria’s Canada Day celebrations, and it remains an important day for the immigrants and naturalized citizens we serve. It is an opportunity to express their appreciation for a multicultural Canada where people from all backgrounds respectfully come together as equals. Today we know that we were missing an important piece of our nation’s history and context in those celebrations. Indigenous Peoples weren’t, and still are not, treated as equals.
Compelled by the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools, ICA embarked on our Indigenous Journey work to better understand our country’s colonial past and present. This will help ensure that the newcomers we serve understand the country they are joining in its fullness as a nation built on the forced subjugation and suffering of the Indigenous populations. This is difficult and emotional work. It exposes many realities that we are rightfully ashamed of, many cruelties and harms that were done in the name of all Canadians by people we have been taught to admire as the builders of this country. ICA is committed to doing our part in reconciliation and to being guided by our relationship with Indigenous peoples as to what that reconciliation looks like.
Some people have referred to the discovery of the remains of the 215 young children buried in unmarked graves on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School as Canada’s George Floyd moment – the moment in which we cannot unsee what we have seen. With many more remains found at the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, and more likely to be found, we can no longer ignore what Indigenous people have long known and suffered through. To learn more, there are many excellent resources available through the Greater Victoria Public Library and regional libraries.
This Canada Day I invite you to take time to reflect on what Canada was, is, and can be, and to think about what you can do to actively and respectfully engage in the reconciliation journey. My hope is that one day, before too long, we can all – everyone – celebrate a country we can unabashedly be proud of. A country where we have faced our truth and have built genuine trust and respect for each other.
Chief Executive Officer