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Sechelt goes ahead with Canada Day plans after considering cancellation

District encourages participants to don orange
N.Canada Day 2
Last year’s drive-bay Canada Day in Sechelt was organized in response to COVID-19 public health restrictions.

Victoria may have cancelled it but the District of Sechelt is forging ahead with Canada’s birthday while trying to balance the celebrations with the current residential school reckoning by encouraging all participants in a planned drive-by parade to wear orange.

“The possibility of cancelling the annual event was given careful consideration by the Canada Day Committee,” said a district press release, adding this year it’s 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.”

Instead of cancelling festivities, in the spirit of reconciliation, the district is encouraging participants in the drive-by parade scheduled for July 1 to wear orange “in recognition of the collective pain, grief and trauma that residential schools continue to cause to this day.”

Last month’s revelation that the bodies of 215 children were buried in unmarked graves near Kamloops Residential School has increased the visibility of the orange shirt movement, which has its origins in a commemorative project by St. Joseph Mission Residential School survivors.

The orange shirt originates from a story by former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad. An orange shirt given to her by her grandmother was confiscated on her first day of residential school.

In the release, Mayor Darnelda Siegers said, “While we celebrate our country and the opportunities available to us here, I encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on Canada’s history and how we move forward from here.

“As Canadians, this is an opportunity to demonstrate our values of respect, inclusion and diversity.”

July 1 celebrations will start with a virtual protocol ceremony on Facebook and YouTube, which will include a shíshálh welcome song by kwayimin Andy Johnson, teachings by elder Teta’lus Audrey Joe Angelene Valerie Joe, and a rendition of O Canada by Sara Douglas.

The district is also encouraging residents and business owners to decorate their homes and storefronts and themselves for a #CanadaDaySechelt contest, with $500 in gift cards donated by the Sechelt Downtown Business Association.

This is the second year COVID-19 restrictions have forced a departure from the usual Cowrie Street parade.

The parade is set to start at 10 a.m. and will travel through West Sechelt and The Shores, followed by ts'uḵw'um, Davis Bay and Selma Park, and will finish at Tuwanek, East Porpoise Bay and Bayview.

People can register floats at:

Following the parade, “roving performers” including hula hoopers, clowns and magicians will make their way along the waterfront in Davis Bay and along the Boulevard.

From 3 to 7 p.m. the Sechelt Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market will be hosting a picnic at Hackett Park.

Also starting at 3 p.m. is s boat parade along Sechelt Inlet ʔálhtulich. Registration is available for people who would like to participate.

The celebrations in Sechelt will be the main event on the Sunshine Coast this year, as Gibsons has nothing planned. Typically, it holds a much smaller celebration with a focus instead on Sea Cavalcade, which is also cancelled this year. “We are extremely optimistic that it will return bigger and better than ever in 2022,” said Gibsons’ communications coordinator Elizabeth Quayle.

She also said there have been “loose discussions” around an outdoor event “to celebrate our ability to gather in person again, whenever that is officially OK.”

During budget deliberations this year, Mayor Bill Beamish asked for funds to be set aside for such a celebration, “for when we can all get out, shake hands, hug and be friends again.”