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

A shot from within Leah McDiarmid’s new gallery shows a sneak peak at June 13’s opening exhibit. (Leah McDiarmid photo)
New gallery promises engaging experience in Tofino

Tofino Gallery of Contemporary Art unveils inaugural exhibit on June 13

Louise Rodgers and Georgina Valk cup a handful of freshly sifted, nutrient-rich compost. The duo met about 10 years ago while their kids were in kindergarten. They saw a need for composting in Tofino so they founded Tofino Urban Farm Co. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino moms turn mounds of organic waste into “Black Gold”

Curbside residential and commercial compost pickup to begin in 2022 for West Coasters

(file)
Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks thanks Tofino businesses for becoming allies

Businesses say they can play a part in reconciliation by supporting Indigenous stewardship

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Ucluelet mayor and council will wait until further in-person engagement can take place before making their final approval regarding the draft OCP that went to public hearing on May 13. (District of Ucluelet photo)
Future public input session planned for Ucluelet’s draft OCP

“A couple little changes and some housekeeping items and we’ll get to it in September”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read