PBI-Canada observes Acknowledge the Truth Walk on Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont: “We’re determined to get John A. Macdonald’s name off the parkway. There are thousands of children that died who would have lived if he had never come to this country.”
On Friday September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Peace Brigades International-Canada was present for the ‘Acknowledge the Truth Walk’ in Ottawa (on unceded Algonquin territory).
This National Day honours the thousands of Indigenous children who did not return home from the state-funded, church-administered residential schools, as well as the survivors, their families and communities.
The Walk took place on what is now called the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.
The Facebook event page for the Walk noted: “The walk, protesting the parkway’s name, will become an annual event continuing until such a time in the future when Macdonald’s name is finally removed from the parkway.”
Macdonald was the prime minister from 1867 to 1873 and then again 1878 to 1891.
It was in 1883 that Macdonald authorized the creation of residential schools.
At that time, Macdonald stated in the House of Commons: “It has been strongly pressed on myself, as the head of the Department [of Indian Affairs], that the Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”
That same year Public Works Minister Hector-Louis Langevin allocated $43,000 for the federal government’s first three industrial schools for Indigenous boys.
Over the century that followed, approximately 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their parents, families, and communities.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented the deaths of 3,201 children at residential schools, its chair Justice Murray Sinclair has stated that 6,000 children may have died at these schools, but Cindy Blackstock and Pam Palmater have estimated that more than 12,000 children died.
PBI-Canada recalls that the United Nations defines “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” as genocide.
In June 2021, after the discovery of a mass grave at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, three Ottawa city councillors wrote to the federal government asking it to remove Macdonald’s name from the parkway and to have a consultative process to rename it.
CTV reports: “As hundreds of people participated in a march to rename the parkway, an Every Child Matters banner covered the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway sign.”
Dumont has also suggested the parkway should be renamed the Kichi Zibi Parkway, the Anishinābe name for the Ottawa River.
Prior to the Walk, CBC reported that the National Capital Commission (NCC) refused a permit for the Walk citing “logistical and health and safety reasons.”
Despite that, Residential School survivors, Elders, members of the public and elected officials took part in the Walk.
An aerial view of the Parkway near Parkdale Avenue.
For more, see the Radio-Canada report: Des centaines de personnes marchent pour changer le nom de Sir-John-A.-Macdonald à Ottawa.