Canada Day in Inuvik was celebrated with a cheery parade, upbeat live music and red-and-white cupcakes.

Unfortunately, much of Canada’s past and present are not worthy of such joyous celebration.

From Canada’s residential school system to today’s thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, our country has many faults it must acknowledge.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t celebrate Canada Day. It is one of the only times Canadians celebrate our national identity together – save for in hockey season – and that is important.

However, in addition to the celebrations, we should also be acknowledging our shortcomings.

Owning up to our past and present faults in an honest way is one way we can work towards reconciliation, and ultimately, change for the better.

While Canada Day is a great time to have difficult conversations as a country, we should be having these kinds of conversations on a regular basis.

In my high school in Toronto, Ont., my history classes sugar-coated the realities of how Indigenous people were treated by settlers. My geography classes failed to mention anything about traditional Indigenous knowledge about the land, and my social studies classes barely acknowledged Indigenous cultures. It wasn’t until I chose to take an optional human rights course in my first year of university that I learned that residential schools even existed.

I know that topics like these are being taught here in Inuvik, but these are things that Canadian students all over the country should be learning about.

We are getting there, though. Last month, I attended the third annual National Indigenous Education and Reconciliation Network Gathering, where stakeholders in Canadian education met to work on policy and curricula surrounding Indigenous-specific education materials.

I am confident that things will start to change and we will have more comprehensive Indigenous-specific curriculum materials in our schools.

These conversations are also slowly happening in other institutions, too.

For example, representatives from the Edmonton Eskimos began to meet with various groups in the North last week to discuss the team’s name.

Some consider the Eskimo name to be offensive. I appreciate the team’s proactive initiative in meeting with groups in the North, who are actually directly impacted by the name, to discuss their thoughts and concerns.

I’m encouraged by the critical, honest discussions that are happening, but I would like to see more of it, especially on days like Canada Day.

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