The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) recognizes the 154 years of Canadian Independence, and all that Canada has done for immigrants throughout history, especially the influx of Macedonians into Canada over the past century. This year it is with great sombre that we must stand in solidarity with the Indigenous community members of Canada.
Canadian Macedonians are continually grateful for being welcomed with respect by the Canadian Government regarding equality rights to religion, association, and expression. However, with the recent discovery of nearly one thousand Indigenous children in unmarked graves at former Canadian Residential School sites, Canadian Macedonians must acknowledge the former abhorrent practices toward the Indigenous children not so long ago.
Canadian Macedonians are all too familiar with genocide. As the minority and native indigenous population of northern Greece, in Bulgaria, and as an independent nation in the country of Macedonia since 1991, Canadian Macedonians must condemn any form of genocide. It is unfortunate that Canada acted as such a haven for many immigrant people, including Macedonian populations, but failed to do so for Indigenous communities that were present before crown sovereignty.
Canada remains to be a strong community between people of different cultures, religions, and ethnicities. All of Canada needs to come together at this time to redress the harm done by the dark legacy of residential schools that only ended in 1996.
With the cultural respect Canada provided Macedonians that allowed for a strong sense of community, many Canadian Macedonians, and perhaps Macedonians around the world will be wearing orange on Canada Day. This is to symbolize that every child matters and promote learning into Indigenous history.
There is no better day to initiate reconciliation for Indigenous groups in Canada. After all, Canada Day is about reflecting the true values of Canadian society – “glorious and free”.
“As a Canadian Macedonian, I am happy to be a citizen of Canada, a country which continuously strives towards inclusion, equality, and respect for all its citizens,” said UMD Board Member and Canadian Director Mary Outow, who immigrated to Canada as a young child.