As I was writing a post about Memorial Day here in NL today, I was struck by the fact that this province has been mourning the loss of those soldiers for 105 years.
We all know there were close to 800 soldiers in the regiment who were part of the ‘big push,’ the ‘July Drive’ at Beaumont-Hamel and that the next morning only 68 men answered roll call.
That loss affected life in our province for many years. It had an enormous emotional, personal, cultural, and economic impact on the people of NL.
Those are all facts.
Sad and horrible facts.
Writing them down today in the context of also preparing posts to honour the Indigenous children whose graves have been located near the so-called “residential schools” that were actually essentially assimilation centres where children were abused and mistreated threw the whole thing into stark relief.
This province has been publicly mourning the loss of those men for all of these years but our country has essentially left Indigenous people to mourn alone.
Even though there were far more victims. Even though the personal, emotional, social, cultural, and emotional impact has been far wider.
Even though Canadian government and church policies are clearly at fault.
This wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t a lack of knowledge. Residential schools and other racist policies were by design.
Yet, there has been no public mourning until now. And it still isn’t a formal day of mourning, it’s a movement but not a public policy.
I recognize that it is a different sort of situation. And I know that a public day of mourning is only the beginning of what needs to be done.
Reconciliation is going to be a long process and there is a lot of work to do.
But a formal public acknowledgement through a day of mourning would be a step forward.
PS – My friend Cate has written an excellent post about the movement to cancel Canada Day. Please check it out.