The City of Fernie is taking steps to make Indigenous reconciliation an integral part of Canada Day.
“Reconciliation isn’t an either or situation, but something we need to keep holding space for,” said Mayor Ange Qualizza.
“This year I am honoured to have Nasukin Gravelle and elders from the Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it First Nation for Reconciliation Walks on July 1 at City Hall. The event will begin with words from both Nasukin Gravelle and myself, followed by a prayer from an elder. We will then commence our Reconciliation Walk that will be led with a drum group.”
Qualizza said she hoped the community could be both mindful and celebratory on Canada Day in 2021 in “recognizing the unique and wonderful contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Mètis people and acknowledge how we, as a country, have pulled together through a challenging year in response to COVID.”
Speaking of COVID-19, provincial health orders remain in effect, so there will be limited availability for the Canada Day events this year, but Qualizza said she wanted to make Fernie’s Reconciliation Walk a permanent part of Canada Day in Fernie going forward.
“I am committed to making our Reconciliation Walk an annual part of our Canada Day events and look forward to next year when we can invite the entire community.”
The Reconciliation Walk will begin at 9:45, with registration required in order to keep numbers low.
Last year, Canada Day in Fernie was celebrated from home with a virtual lineup of events – little of which will happen this year, as Canada acknowledges the discovery of 215 children’s remains at the former Kamloops Residential School. In response to the discovery, and amid a nation-wide discussion on reconciliation, many municipalities around British Columbia have chosen to forgo Canada Day events altogether, including Victoria and Penticton.
Victoria pulled the plug on all planned events after discussions with Indigenous people in the city, while Penticton’s Mayor, John Vassilaki put out a statement saying that they did not believe they could hold any events that could properly show respect to the Indigenous community given time constraints and the ongoing pandemic.
“We encourage you to spend the day with your family and take time to reflect on Canada’s history and consider what we can each do to work towards an inclusive community,” he said.
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