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)

No Canada Day events in Victoria, 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

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is calling on Transport Canada to rescind its ban to Feb. 28, 2022 on cruise ship stops in Canada, to allow planning to begin in advance of a reopening of the cruise industry next year.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority seeks end to federal ban on cruise ship stops in Canada

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO hopes cruises will resume by 2022

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

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

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

A 30x40 ft boat/car shop in the Little River area near Wilkinson Road was fully involved by the time firefighters arrived on scene. Photo by Comox Fire Rescue
Comox firefighters battle ‘showy’ shop fire Saturday night

Smoke could be seen throughout the Comox Valley

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Port Hardy cancels Canada Day celebrations in wake of Kamloops mass grave site revelation

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Most Read