Victoria postpones Canada Day plans in light of residential school deaths
The City of Victoria is no longer planning to host a virtual Canada Day celebration on July 1 and will instead create a broadcast focused on broader Canadian history with guidance from local Lekwungen people.
The city says the broadcast will be released later in the summer and will consider "what it means to be Canadian."
"Context changed when those 215 children's bodies were discovered and they (the Lekwungen Nation) are reeling and everybody is reeling," said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps on Thursday. "We're all just doing our best to figure out how to move forward."
People visiting a residential school memorial on the steps of the B.C. legislature Thursday largely agreed with the city's assessment.
"It's very hard to feel pride in Canada these days, so yes, I think it's a good idea to just cancel it for this year," said island resident Margo Taylor-Ritchie.
"Maybe Canada Day this year should be in remembrance of all the residential school survivors and the victims," said another resident, Jennifer Gray.
Across the country there are similar calls to cancel this year's Canada Day celebrations.
On social media, #cancelcanadaday has been gaining traction, and Indigenous group Idle No More has planned several rallies on July 1 across the country.
"I applaud the groups that take the time and energy and the daringness to really show that there are other ways and other explanations – and are not pretending that life is just the same as it was yesterday or the day before," said Priscilla Settee, Indigenous studies professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
Victoria council unanimously voted to replace the Canada Day broadcast at a council meeting Thursday.
In May, before the remains of the children in Kamloops were discovered, Victoria was looking for applicants to produce a virtual Canada Day event, similar to what took place in 2020.
At the time, the virtual event had a budget of $65,000.