Vancouver Island First Nations and others gather on the lawn of the legislature to honour the 215 children who never came home from a Kamloops residential school. The timing of the discovery will affect Victoria’s marking of July 1 as Canada Day this year. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

Vancouver Island First Nations and others gather on the lawn of the legislature to honour the 215 children who never came home from a Kamloops residential school. The timing of the discovery will affect Victoria’s marking of July 1 as Canada Day this year. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

Victoria cancels Canada Day events out of respect for First Nations

Reconciliation-based hour-long TV presentation to air later this summer, rather than July 1

The absence of First Nations participation during a time of grieving, combined with a lack of available time to refocus a planned Canada Day celebration broadcast, has prompted a shift in the City of Victoria’s marking of the nation’s 154th birthday.

A late motion brought forward Thursday by Mayor Lisa Helps and Coun. Marianne Alto to council’s committee-of-the-whole meeting asked for the Canada Day plans in the works to be put on hold, to give the city time to consult with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations on using the planned hour-long broadcast July 1 as a reconciliation-focused educational opportunity.

Committee members agreed and as a result, the city will not stage any of the typical events on Canada Day this year.

“The more we reflect, the more we understand that holding the usual Canada Day celebrations could be damaging to the city’s and the community’s reconciliation efforts,” Helps and Alto wrote in the motion.

The city had already begun planning for an hour-long, multifaceted TV production similar to last year, given the inability to stage the typical heavily attended Canada Day events in the Inner Harbour under ongoing COVID-19 gathering restrictions.

But the Songhees and Esquimalt’s presence in the project was unlikely, given the continued mourning of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were found in Kamloops – strong evidence of which came during the June 8 ceremony at the legislature and through informal feedback Helps received there.

RELATED STORY: Island First Nations canoe, drum, sing in Victoria to honour 215 residential school children

Explaining the rationale for the motion during the meeting, Helps said, “one thing we can do is small acts of reconciliation. We can rethink what we do with our own resources and our own protocols for Canada Day. We don’t have the power to cancel Canada Day, but we do have the ability to readjust our programming to reflect the difficult times.”

Helps said she heard from local Indigenous leaders Tuesday that doing nothing would also feel odd, thus the move to hear from councillors on the matter.

The discussion touched on a range of aspects, from respect for the nations and the potential use of archived reconciliation-related footage, to the effect of changing the program on the musicians and other artists due to be booked.

In the end, committee members voted unanimously in favour of an amended motion by Coun. Ben Isitt that would still allow an educational video to be produced, but extend the deadline for airing it to Sept. 6. Such an extension would not only allow time for the city to consult with local First Nations leaders on content and give the production team time to switch gears, it keeps to the conditions on the $40,000 in Heritage Canada funding the city received for July 1 events.

A meeting of the City Family, a reconciliation advisory body that includes representatives from the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, city staff and council members, is scheduled for June 16 and the topic will be brought up then.

The committee recommendation was moved to the afternoon council meeting for approval.

ALSO READ: Time to account for all child deaths at Canada’s residential schools: Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: don.descoteau@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Canada DayCity of VictoriaIndigenous reconcilliation

Just Posted

Kurt Swanson’s dog Kona takes a break from the heat on the Summer Solstice near Cranbrook, B.C. (Kurt Swanson photo)
Very warm temperatures forecast across the Kootenays this weekend

Nelson, Castlegar forecast to hit 39, Cranbrook 37

With high temperatures forecasted for the week and into the next, Interior Health is offering some tips on how to keep yourself safe from heat-related illness. (Pixabay)
Interior Health offers safety tips as temperatures soar

‘Too much heat can be harmful to your health’

The view from the Eager Hill lookout in the Cranbrook Community Forest. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
New ‘Padawan’ trail at Eager Hill now open and ready for use

The 5km green flow trail is suitable for all ages

The City of Cranbrook and the Ktunaxa Nation raised the flag of the Ktunaxa Nation at the arches entrance into the city’s downtown core during a ceremony on Monday, June 21. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.
Ktunaxa Nation flag raised at downtown arches entrance

The Ktunaxa Nation flag was raised at the Cranbrook arches — the… Continue reading

Kimberley Search and Rescue were able to quickly respond to a call for service and transport an injured mountain biker to East Kootenay Regional Hospital over the weekend. Kimberley SAR file photo.
Kimberley Search and Rescue respond to injured mountain biker on Bootleg Mountain

Kimberley Search and Rescue responded to a call for service this past… Continue reading

Pictured is Mrs. O and her grade 4/5 class at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Cranbrook. Mrs. O challenged her class to read 36,000 pages in May and they far surpassed that goal. The students were then allowed to choose her fate. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
WATCH: St. Mary’s Catholic School grade 4/5 class wins reading challenge

Teacher lets students choose fate after reading over 47,000 pages in one month

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves U.S. town’s only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s so easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton, resident of Point Roberts, Wash.

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter said a black bear is believed to have killed local livestock. (THE NEWS/files)
Black bear believed to have killed miniature donkey in Maple Ridge

Trap set for predator that has been killing livestock

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)
Penticton heads to court over homeless shelter as BC Housing audit begins

The city was not satisfied with the response from Minister David Eby regarding the ongoing situation

People enjoy the sun at Woodbine Beach on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
BC Hydro assures customers it has ‘more than enough’ power to weather the heatwave

Despite an increase of pressure on the Western grid, blackouts are not expected like in some U.S. states

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pilots say no reason to continue quarantines for vaccinated international travellers

Prime minister says Canada still trying to limit number of incoming tourists

Six United Way chapters around the province are merging into United Way B.C. (News Bulletin file photo)
6 United Way chapters merging around B.C.

Money raised in communities will stay in those communities, agency says

Most Read