n July 1st an Indigenous coalition including Idle No More Toronto, Idle No More Ontario, and Dashmaawaan Bemaadzinjin (They Feed The People) brought thousands of Indigenous and settler allies to Yonge-Dundas Square. Drummers, jingle dancers and speakers provided context, solace, and community through their speeches and dances.
The event was held to commemorate the 1,505 children's graves that were recently uncovered at Residential Schools across Canada. Many Indigenous activists in past weeks have commented that this number is likely to rise, and a final number may be elusive.
After candles were placed at the centre of the square, individuals came to place their own candles and pay respects. Organizers requested no photographs during this portion out of respect for the event and vigil. Following this, the crowd moved back to a large circle, and Crystal Sinclair from Idle No More Toronto took the microphone. "Let's have some peace, and remember them. And pray in the way that your belief system has taught you," she said.
During the latter portion of the event, organizers invited all people in the crowd to participate in a socially distanced two-step dance, followed by a circle dance. "This is the largest two-step I've ever seen!" said the main speaker on the microphone. At the peak of the event the entire square was full, with thousands of people wearing orange shirts and accessories in commemoration of the lost Indigenous children.
The City of Toronto has recommended renaming Dundas Street “over the role of its namesake (Henry Dundas, First Viscount Melville) in obstructing the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.” You can learn more about this process and how to get involved here.
Indian Residential School Survivors and Family
The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience.