A Different Kind of Canada Day

Today is a different kind of Canada Day. Growing up in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), Canada Day was one of my favourite holidays. When I was a little girl, I would go with my parents and siblings over to Canada’s Wonderland with lawn chairs, picnic blankets and snacks to watch the fireworks. Years later as a student in Ottawa, Canada Day was always a HUGE celebration. The entire downtown area was closed off for the day’s festivities: outdoor concerts, food trucks, backyard parties near campus. Seeing thousands of Canadians of all backgrounds decked out in red and white filled me with pride. Canada: a shining example of multiculturalism, inclusivity and progress. A place where all are welcome and where anyone can thrive. A country whose sum is greater than its international parts.

This Canada Day is different.

Source: CBC

A Day of Mourning

Since the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the site of a former Residential School in Kamloops BC back in May, additional mass graves have been unearthed at former Residential School sites across the country numbering in the thousands. It is a drop in the proverbial ocean of cruelty, humiliation and cultural genocide inflicted upon Canada’s Indigenous populations for centuries. It is also a moment of spiritual reckoning for myself as a proud Canadian. Indigenous leaders across the country are asking Canadians to cancel this year’s Canada Day celebrations and use it as a moment of reckoning, reflection and solidarity.

Today is a national day of mourning. Not only for the thousands of Indigenous children murdered at the hands of the Canadian government, but also a personal day of mourning for the Canada I thought I knew. Mourning for the Canada we are taught from childhood. A Canada revered internationally as polite kindhearted peacekeepers. A Canada whose open and successful multicultural society is a shining example for other Western countries. This sterilized narrative of the Canadian dream no longer holds water and we now have to ask ourselves some tough questions.

What does this have to do with iluk?

Why am I bringing this up on our iluk blog? Firstly, because I think it’s important to be authentic and discuss issues that are not only important to us, but impact the way in which we aspire to do business.

As a Canadian startup, it would be easy for us to create Canada Day blog posts and social media posts. Special Canada Day promotions on the iluk app. Images of the Canadian flag slapped across Instagram with captions about how proud we are to be Canadian and and a Canada-based company. To be clear, we are proud of those things. But, we can also acknowledge that the source of our pride is also the source of tremendous pain. We can strive to learn and to be better.

What can we do as founders?

As individuals, there a few actions my co-founders and I can take in order to stay informed and effect change. Settlers Take Action by the On Canada Project has been a great resource. They list:

  • Visiting native-land.ca to learn more about the land on which we live and the people who lived here before us
  • Reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action
  • Having open and honest conversations with family friends and colleagues
  • Reaching out to our elected officials and reminding them that Indigenous rights matter
Source: Instagram. Ashley Callingbull is an incredible Indigenous activist and great resource of Canadian Indigenous issues.

As a startup in the beauty space, I think it’s important to elevate Indigenous voices in the beauty industry wherever we can, in addition to other marginalised voices. From following Indigenous activists on social media, supporting Indigenous-owned beauty brands, corporate donations that go towards Indigenous organizations, to partnering with Indigenous content creators, there is a lot we at iluk can and should do as we grow.

We hope you’ll hold us accountable.

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