Victoria City has canceled a planned online Canada Day presentation as the community grapples with the search for the unmarked graves of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
According to a City of Victoria media release, the city will instead work with local First Nations to produce an alternative broadcast that will air later in the summer “that explores what it’s like to be Canadian in light of recent events.” it means”.
The decision came unanimously in Victoria City Council on Thursday.
It came after some Lekwungen First Nations people, who have long attended the city’s Canada Day events, said they would not participate this year due to the pain and trauma of the discovery.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said of the decision, “It was difficult, as much as reconciliation is hard work and difficult negotiations and grappling with the realities of colonial – and in some cases, genocide – the country’s past.”
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“Together with the good things about living in Canada and along a deeper path to reconciliation, we are walking with the Songhai and Eskimalt nations.”
No date has been provided for the one-hour replacement broadcast.
The proposal, approved on Thursday, said the program would be seen as an educational opportunity in which Lekhungen elders could share the history of the land now known as Victoria, with a focus on residential schools. Educational piece and Sir John A. Macdonald, among other contributions First Nations may wish to create.
The city of Victoria made headlines in 2018 when it removed a statue of McDonald outside City Hall, following consultations with First Nations on the former prime minister’s role in building residential schools.
A reconciliation plaque now stands in place of the statue, while consultations are underway to decide where to eventually take it.