The District of Sechelt has cancelled its Canada Day celebrations this year “given the most recent events” and due to concerns expressed by participants and the public.
“We heard from our community that now is not the time to celebrate. Instead, it is a time to learn and reflect on Canada’s history, the intergenerational trauma that has occurred and how we can build a better future,” said Mayor Darnelda Siegers in a June 25 news release announcing the cancellation.
“It is a difficult decision to cancel a much-loved annual celebration, but, out of respect for our shíshálh neighbours, it is the right thing to do.”
Sechelt council and the Canada Day committee made the decision in consultation with shíshálh Nation as well as the Sechelt Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market and the Sechelt Downtown Business Association (SDBA), the release said.
“The Canada Day committee worked hard to plan an event recognizing the good things Canada offers, while, through local Nation consultation, also acknowledging the legacy of harm caused to Indigenous people,” said the June 25 release.
“Given the most recent events, it was determined this balanced approach was not enough at this time.”
The release also said “participants and citizens” expressed concern over moving ahead with the celebration.
On June 24, Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan announced ground-penetrating radar had detected what are believed to be 751 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school.
The news comes less than a month after the revelation that the bodies of 215 children were buried in unmarked graves near Kamloops Residential School.
Last Friday, June 18, the District of Sechelt had announced it would be moving ahead with a drive-by Canada Day parade in neighbourhoods throughout the district, “roving performers” along Davis Bay and the Boulevard and a public picnic at Hackett Park, hosted by the Sechelt Farmers’ Market, but had encouraged parade participants to wear orange “in recognition of the collective pain, grief and trauma that residential schools continue to cause to this day.”
At that time, the district said this year it would be more important than ever “for Canadians to take pride and celebrate the good things our country affords us while also recognizing the legacy of harm that has been caused to our Indigenous communities.”
One event that had been planned will move ahead.
On July 1 a protocol ceremony will be presented online on the district’s Facebook page that will include a shíshálh welcome song, teachings by elders and the singings of O Canada.
– with files from the Canadian Press