Saskatoon, Regina mayors say July 1 will not be a traditional Canada Day, province in mourning

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Mayor Charlie Clark says now does not feel like a time to celebrate. (Bryan Eneas/CBC - image credit)
Mayor Charlie Clark says now does not feel like a time to celebrate. (Bryan Eneas/CBC - image credit)

July 1 will not see traditional Canada Day celebrations in Saskatchewan's two biggest cities this year, according to their mayors.

Calls to cancel or post-pone Canada Day celebrations have been widespread in the wake of the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves on Cowessess First Nation announced on Thursday.

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said he has heard calls and requests to cancel the national holiday.

The main Canada Day event and fireworks in Saskatoon are organized by the Optimist Club, but the club has already cancelled those events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regardless, Clark said the time is not right for festivities.

"We are in a time of mourning in our community and our country. It does not feel like a time for celebration. It feels like a time to reckon with the truth of residential schools and the impacts of racism and colonial relationships in our country," Clark said in a statement to CBC.

Clark said Saskatchewan residents have a role to play in reconciliation.

"This year, let's use Canada Day to commit to building a Canada where every child is held up and supported to succeed — every Indigenous child, every child arriving here from another country, and every child born on this land."

Matthew Howard/CBC
Matthew Howard/CBC

Clark said taking steps together toward this goal can give residents reason to celebrate in the future.

Meanwhile, Regina mayor Sandra Masters said she will spend part of July 1 at the Buffalo Day event on Dewdney Avenue.

The Buffalo People Arts Institute event will begin with a pipe ceremony, and include a feast, a children's powwow and storytelling.

Masters said the traditional Canada Day events in Regina had previously been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

"There had been no plans for fireworks or any kind of festivities and no intention to reschedule them. We were just more interested in, frankly, coming out of COVID on the safe side, getting vaccinated and now having the opportunity to celebrate Buffalo Day," said Masters.

Multiple communities across Saskatchewan have either cancelled or postponed Canada Day festivities.

Melville, Wahpeton Dakota Nation, Meadow Lake, Flying Dust First Nation and the northern tri-communities La Ronge, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and the Village of Air Ronge have all announced they will not be celebrating the July 1 holiday.

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