"Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practice [it] in our everyday lives."
Wilmot Township, a municipality just west of Kitchener, has cancelled its in-person and virtual Canada Day celebrations this year, following the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
"The Indigenous community is asking for us to rally around them and to give them space for them to have their trauma and sorrow. And that's what we're interested in doing as the Canada Day in Wilmot Committee is pausing this year to create that safe space, so they can process, and we can navigate forward on what forward looks like, and I don't know what that looks like for next year," said Angie Hallman, the Canada Day in Wilmot committee chair, to CTV News.
Family, children, community and belonging have always been the focus of the local Canada Day event over the last 37 years. This year, we invite children to participate in a public art experience to decorate a wooden leaf to share with us what they feel,... \n\n1pic.twitter.com/c7h35IgbnM— Canada Day in Wilmot \ud83c\udde8\ud83c\udde6 \u2013 2021 (@Canada Day in Wilmot \ud83c\udde8\ud83c\udde6 \u2013 2021) 1623696300
In a June 14 statement, the event committee said they will be inviting children to decorate wooden maple leaf cutouts that will be put on display "to share with us what they feel, what they see, and what their hopes and dreams are for this shared land we call Turtle Island and Canada."
"Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives - within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, events, governments, places of worship, schools and workplaces. And most importantly for all of our children and future generations," they wrote.
The decision comes a few days after Victoria, B.C., announced the cancellation of its Canada Day events this year, which will be replaced by a broadcast led by the Lekwungen people that "explores what it means to be Canadian, in light of recent events."
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society Emergency Crisis Line is available across Canada 24/7. Those who may need support can call 1-866-925-4419.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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