Roberto Machado Noa—Getty
July 2, 2020 12:39 PM EDT

Indigenous activists in Canada peaceful marched in the streets yesterday, as part of the ‘Cancel Canada Day’ protests that took place nationwide on the country’s national holiday.

Organized by the Idle No More movement, the march protested the “ongoing genocide” against Indigenous people and paid tribute to those who have lost their lives at the hands of the Canadian state.

“We will not celebrate the ongoing genocide within Canada against Indigenous people,” the organization said in a statement on its website.

Canada Day commemorates the Constitution act of 1867 that united three separate colonies in Canada to create a single Dominion within the British Empire. Supporters of #cancelcanadaday criticize the commemoration of this national holiday, which they say is a celebration of colonialism. “We have many names for our sacred lands and Canada is not one of them,” says a video posted to the Idle No More Facebook page.

#Cancelcanadaday trended online yesterday as events took place in cities across Canada including Vancouver, Halifax, Saskatoon and Hamilton.

The latest protests come at a time of national reckoning, where police brutality and racism against Indigenous people have received renewed attention. Protests erupted after video footage emerged of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer in Alberta aggressively forcing a First Nations Chief to the ground and punching him in the head on June 6.

The protests also follow months of upheaval regarding the federal government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic amongst Indigenous communities that prompted the Congress of Aboriginal People in Canada to file a federal court application on May 13, alleging that the government’s COVID-19 assistance is “inadequate and discriminatory.”

In his Canada Day remarks, Justin Trudeau—who has come under fire for failing to fulfill his electoral promises to Indigenous peoples—acknowledged inequality in Canada.

“We can build a better country, where every senior has a safe place to live, and where we say no to racism, injustice, and hate,” he said. “A country where we understand that our work to ensure everyone has an equal and fair chance at success is never finished.”

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