Canada Day celebrations were subdued this year, in part because of many pandemic restrictions still in place, but more so out of respect for the finding of hundreds of bodies found in unmarked graves on the grounds of three residential schools located in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Events and celebrations had already been decreased, or moved to a virtual format, because of COVID. The Kincardine Canada Day committee had organized a number of safe, distanced activities including a scavenger hunt on the Kincardine Trails and a photo submission contest for residents and businesses decorating their buildings and a contest for kids who painted themed rocks.
On June 29, a statement was released by mayor Glover on behalf of the Municipality and Kincardine Council, extending colndolences to Cowessess First Nation and Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation.
Mayor Glover encouraged resident to show support and stand with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which includes the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and the Saugeen First Nation, the Métis Nation of Ontario, the Historic Saugeen Métis and all Indigenous communities across Canada, by wearing an orange shirt, the colour associated with remembrance of Canada’s residential schools, on July 1.
“As a municipality we will work on actions together with the community to support community learning and action towards reconciliation,” said mayor Glover in the release. “These actions will be based on meaningful relationships and respectful collaboration with local Indigenous communities. I encourage you this Canada Day and every day to move ahead in your understanding of Canada’s history. Thoughts and words are not enough. We must demonstrate our commitment to action in order to move towards healing and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. And the fact is that there can’t be reconciliation without understanding the truth. To understand this truth we need to educate ourselves on the history.”
“Changing how we observe Canada Day is something we need to reflect on going forward. We can love our country, but knowing it is flawed and being brave enough to individually and collectively demand better is more aligned with the values this country and this community is proud of, and wants to be known for. It's knowing and acting on our responsibility to stand in solidarity with the Indigenous people of this land.”
At the tennis courts just off Harbour Street, a kiosk was set up by the municipality to offer information about reconciliation and where to start the process. The graphic explained reconciliation and what it means – understanding each other, building trust and creating a better future. It also suggested that people read books by Indigenous authors, listen to Indigenous music and find books through the Bruce County Library about residential schools.
Natalie Nowkawalk, who is the mother of two Inuit children, says offering information show “support for Indigenous people.” It shows people the steps forward to action and is a means to inform the community so they can help.
“People want to talk about,” said volunteer Kevin Moore. “It’s on people’s minds but they don’t have information.”
Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent