Instead, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark is encouraging residents to take the time to reflect and honour the lives lost to residential schools.
“It does not feel like a time for celebration. It feels like a time to reckon with the truth of residential schools and the impact of racism and colonial relationships in our country,” Clark wrote in a social media post.
Clark listed a few resources for residents to read including the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action and final report, and Calls to Justice from the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Clark added that the main Canada Day event and fireworks had already been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
The City of Regina also cancelled Canada Day events due to COVID-19 public health restrictions.
La Ronge mayor on cancelling Canada Day events
In Regina, one advocate is introducing an initiative called “Paint Regina Orange,” aimed at raising awareness about residential schools.
Organizer Chasity Delorme said recent unmarked graves discovered near residential schools “hits close to home,” as she’s from Cowessess First Nation – where an estimated 751 unmarked graves were found with ground-penetrating radar last week.
“It’s really important to me to use whatever platform I can, whether it’s social media, to create awareness to all Indigenous issues,” Delorme told Global News.
Delorme said she wants to ensure there is awareness of tragedies that have happened in the past and that continue to occur.
Delorme said it’s important to wear orange on Canada Day for solidarity.
“Many advocates and people in my community, we always talk about how Canada was built on oppression, on racism, on genocide. It was my people, the Indigenous people of Turtle Island – what we know as Canada — that shed blood and died from disease and genocide and were starved and beaten.
“This was based on a historical Canadian government and this is a significant day for the nation to celebrate, and right now it’s just not a time of celebration. Our people have been talking for many, many years about these unmarked graves and children that were mistreated and buried, it’s just now our ancestors are coming back from the past and saying ‘we’re here,’ so Canada Day is not a celebration this year.”
Delorme asked residents to use their social media to raise awareness on Canada Day.
“I sometimes have an issue with the smiling and the selfies because it is kind of a sombre moment, but at least signifying in some way by wearing orange, taking those selfies.”
Delorme said residents can also raise awareness by putting a solar light on their yard like the ones used to mark graves at Cowessess First Nation, or a teddy bear or orange balloons. She added this is one “gentle” way for residents to acknowledge what the Indigenous community is going through.
Meanwhile, Waskesiu, Sask. in Prince Albert National Park will be celebrating Canada Day with a “Salute to Canada” and boat parade while also recognizing recent tragic discoveries with a gathering and prayers.
The gathering and prayers will be held at 10 a.m. behind the Friends of the Park bookstore, which is located beside the Heritage Museum on Waskesiu Drive.
Prayers will be led by First Nation elders. Those who attend the gathering are encouraged to wear an orange shirt or ribbon to show support for Indigenous People.
Anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience can access the 24-hour, toll-free and confidential National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419
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