The council voted unanimously to cancel the planned programming in favor of airing later in the summer.
Warning: This story contains disturbing details.
Victoria City Council has decided this year to cancel its scheduled Canada Day event, believed to be the unmarked burial site of children’s remains, near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Originally, the city had planned virtual programming to mark the day due to the COVID-19 pandemic gathering restrictions. Instead, the city said it would prepare something for a broadcast later this summer featuring local artists, and directed by local First Nations.
“As First Nations mourns and in light of the challenging moment we are in as a Canadian nation following the discovery of the remains of 215 children in a former residential school, the Council has taken the time to explore new possibilities rather than before. The planned Virtual Canada Day broadcast,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in a media statement.
In an interview on Granthshala On the island On Thursday morning, ahead of the council’s decision to cancel scheduled programming, Helps said that last Friday he had spoken with local Indigenous individuals who typically attend Canada Day celebrations, who said he did not that they may do so this year.
“They didn’t feel comfortable participating this year because basically they are sad and unhappy, as are many indigenous people across the country,” Helps said Thursday morning.
It acknowledged the people in whose territory the City of Victoria was built, and the importance of ensuring the city plans for 1 July reflect the needs of that community.
Helps that residents can still accept the day in their own way, but the city wants to provide an opportunity for thoughtful reflection and examination of what it really means to be Canadian.
Support is available for those affected by their experience in residential schools and those affected by the latest reports.
A National Indian Residential School Sankat Rekha has been established to provide support for alumni and those affected. People can access emotional and distress referral services by calling the 24-hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.