Indigenous activist Cindy Blackstock describes the Davin Report as the “first domino falling.”
Written by Nicholas Flood Davin, for whom a Regina school is named, it recommended the implementation of residential schools in Canada.
Until now, there has been no mention of residential schools at Davin’s grave at the Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa.
But Blackstock fought to have the plaque rewritten to recognize his role in what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called a “cultural genocide.”
“I think that there’s some people who don’t want to really think of Canada’s history in this way,” said Blackstock in an interview with CBC Radio’s Morning Edition host Sheila Coles. “I think it’s really important that the full truth be told.”
When the new plaque is unveiled on June 4, it will be the third time Blackstock has successfully pushed for gravesite tributes at the Beechwood Cemetery to be changed or created.
In 2008, she discovered there was no plaque at the grave of Peter Henderson Bryce.
The senior medical health officer for the Department of Indian Affairs raised the alarm about children dying in residential schools.
“He pokes a red poker stick into this mythology that people back then didn’t know any better,” said Blackstock.
“People back then did know better, and throughout the entire history of residential schools we found people blowing the whistle.”
Blackstock worked with the cemetery, the TRC and Bryce’s descendants to install a plaque recognizing his efforts.
She said he was persecuted for speaking out, in part by Duncan Campbell Scott, the second historical figure to have his graveside history rewritten through Blackstock’s efforts.
She said Scott, a renowned poet, was the man who received Bryce’s report and chose not to implement the recommendations it made to help save lives.