St. Catharines is the latest city to cancel Canada Day for reconciliation.
Calls to cancel Canada Day celebrations this year are growing louder, and community leaders and business owners in Ontario are taking action.
Following the recent discoveries of unmarked graves, many containing children's remains at residential schools in Canada, several regions around the province have called off their typical July 1 celebrations as a gesture of reconciliation and solidarity with Indigenous communities.
Wilmot Township, a municipality near Kitchener, was the first in Ontario to cancel all in-person and virtual celebrations this year, in an effort to "rally around [Indigenous communities] and to give them space for them to have their trauma and sorrow," according to Wilmot's Canada Day events chair, Angie Hallman.
On Thursday, St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik announced that Canada Day events in the city have been cancelled to allow for "a moment of reflection, education, and reconciliation."
"It is a day to reflect on the kind of citizens we want to be," said Sendzik. "Think of how you will feel if you were in mourning and grieving a deeply traumatic loss, and your neighbours continued with celebrations, parades and revelry."
Kenora in northwestern Ontario is also cancelling its July 1 fireworks display in response to an open letter from Shoal Lake 40 Chief Vernon Redsky to have celebrations cancelled. "Postponing these fireworks is about acknowledging that we need to do better as a society and a Nation," the city's statement reads.
Some Toronto restaurants will stay open on Canada Day
Jen Agg, the owner of several Toronto-based restaurants like Grey Gardens and Bar Vendetta, announced that she will keep her restaurants open on July 1.
"Won't be celebrating Canada Day (never have but ESPECIALLY won't be this year). Will be opening the restaurants and donating 15% of sales across the board to Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction", tweeted Agg.
Won't be celebrating Canada Day (never have but ESPECIALLY won't be this year). Will be opening the restaurants and donating 15% of sales across the board to Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction.
— Jen Agg (@TheBlackHoof) June 27, 2021
The Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction is a local grassroots initiative that gives meals and supplies to Indigenous residents in the city. Agg encouraged other restaurants and businesses in Toronto to participate if they are able to.
A popular ice cream shop in Ottawa, the Merry Dairy, announced earlier this month it will not be open on Canada Day in order to pause for reconciliation.