Port Hardy, Alert Bay join other municipalities in cancelling Canada Day celebrations

Port Hardy and Alert Bay councils have bowed out of Canada Day celebrations this year following the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children on the grounds of the former Kamloops residential school.

Victoria and Penticton have also decided against staging an official celebration of Canada Day.

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Port Hardy’s Chamber of Commerce sent council a letter stating, “considering this tragic discovery we believe that holding the event is not appropriate or respectful.

“For this reason, we are withdrawing from hosting and participating in the 2021 event.”

Elizabeth Aman Hume, chamber executive director, said, “It is our hope that a deeper understanding for all will begin to facilitate reconciliation on a greater scale and deeper level.”

Council endorsed the chamber’s position. The chamber normally stages the event under approval from council.

Port Hardy Coun. Treena Smith, who made the motion supporting the chamber’s position, said Monday that the decision was about respect. “In the light of the findings and in order to move towards truth and reconciliation that it felt like a good step toward awareness.”

“I’m very proud to be Canadian but I think in this moment in time it is just something that we need to take time to reflect so that we can heal and move forward.”

Many people have suggested wearing orange on Canada Day, she said.

The mayor and councillors of the Village of Alert Bay posted a release stating that because of the discovery at the residential school they feel “it is appropriate to cancel the 2021 July 1 Canada Day celebration. In lieu of a Canada Day celebration, you may choose your own way of honouring these children, their families and their communities.”

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