Ryerson Students’ Union will not be celebrating Canada Day with the rest of the country.
The group, which represents over 32,000 members, has made a clear statement on their sentiments regarding Canada 150, joining Idle No More’s “UNsettling Canada 150.” A full website has been set up explaining their reasons, and calling for others to join their movement.
In a social media post, RSU said that Canada has existed much longer than 150 years.
“All 2017 marks is 150 years since the Canadian Federation Act was signed. The Canadian Federation Act combined Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia into one British owned colony, that essentially means we are celebrating 150 years of colonization,” they state. “The land was stolen from Indigenous people. The hype around Canada 150 is used to erase our legacy of colonization as well as Indigenous histories- to make Canada 150 seem like a holiday, opposed to a genocide.”
Instead of a Canada Day event, RSU has organized Unsettling Canada 150: A Call to Action on July 1. They are calling it a “National Day of Action in support of Indigenous self-determination over land, territories and resources.”
The grassroots movement has several demands in its Colonialism 150 statement, including: a new open “Nation-to-Nation recognition process that begins by fully recognizing collective Indigenous rights and Title, and our decision-making power throughout our territories,” a full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls for Action, including rejecting the colonial doctrines of discovery and recognizing Indigenous self-determination, and a full implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the ground.
RSU’s posts have resulted in thousands of shares, and hundreds of likes and comments by students and non-students alike.
“Every country has a negative history in some way. But I was born in Canada in a family that has lived in this country for years,” reads one response to RSU’s post. “And Canada is one of the greatest countries in the world to live in. That should be celebrated. Celebrating 150 isn’t disregarding our history, it’s celebrating our development.”
In Toronto, RSU will be at the UNsettle Picnic on Saturday where MP Carolyn Benett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs is hosting a Canada 150 Picnic at Spadina Museum.
“We will attend this event to remind MP Carolyn Bennett that they are celebrating 150 years of Colonialism and genocide the Canadian state has and continues to inflict upon Indigenous people,” states their event post.