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

The Rocky Mountaineer train will return to Quesnel on July 11. (Lindsay Chung - Observer File Photo)
Rocky Mountaineer will return to Quesnel on July 11

The passenger train will make its first stop in Quesnel since October of 2019

Category three fires are prohibited across the entire region covered by the Cariboo Fire Centre, including the Quesnel Forest District. (Cariboo Fire Centre)
Quesnel Forest District under stricter fire controls

Category 3 open fires have been prohibited by the Cariboo Fire Centre

Central Mountain Air will be landing in Quesnel five times a week starting on June 28. (Black Press File Photo)
Quesnel council waives passenger landing fees for Central Mountain Air

The first flight since April of 2020 will land in Quesnel on June 28

Jayden Emslie (right) with her grandmother. (Photo submitted)
The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society invites residents in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel to participate in “Free Your Things” taking place over the Father’s Day weekend. (Mary Forbes photo)
Cariboo Conservation Society co-ordinating “Free Your Things” Father’s Day weekend

Residents can sign up if they have items they want to give away

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read