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Vigil honouring residential school victims to be held in Huntsville on Canada Day

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A local woman is asking residents to make some room for orange in the red and white of Canada Day.

The Stand in Silence vigil runs on July 1, to honour the Indigenous children found in mass graves at residential schools across Canada. The vigil will have people gather on a bridge over Highway 11 in Huntsville, with orange ribbons and signs.

Huntsville resident Joyce Crone, who is Mohawk, started the vigil last year after 215 Indigenous children were found in unmarked graves at a Kamloops residential school. Crone asks people to take a moment for remembrance amid their celebrations.

“I would just like to welcome the Huntsville community to join us this year,” says Crone. “It would be remarkable to see a large group of people join in, and it doesn’t take much of your time in your celebration of July 1 to come out, join us at the Stand in Silence vigil.”

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Participants will meet on Falcon Rd. near Ravenscliffe Rd. at 11:45 a.m. for a smudging ceremony and introductory remarks, marching over to the overpass by noon. Crone says for safety reasons, people are encouraged to park farther away from the intersection and walk to the meeting place, with police on-site to manage road safety.

Orange ribbons will be provided, and the procession will be accompanied by a hand-drumbeat, which Crone says symbolizes the heartbeats of the lost children.

Canada Day marks the anniversary of Canada’s Confederation under the British North America Act in 1867. As that Act laid the foundation for Indigenous enfranchisement in Canada, as well as 1876’s Indian Act, Crone says the holiday has rather different connotations for Indigenous Peoples.

“For those children who never came home, and for their families who are still mourning them, for the survivors of residential schools: it’s not necessarily a day of celebration for Indigenous People in Canada,” says Crone.

This is not to say that people should not celebrate Canada Day, according to Crone. However, she says it’s important to reconcile with the past.

“Healing needs to happen for non-Indigenous and Indigenous people alike, so it’s a healing process for all of us in Canada,” says Crone.

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