Canada Day celebrations on the Westside will go ahead this year, but residents are encouraged to wear orange in support of Indigenous communities.
Victoria announced its cancelling of planned Canada Day events after the discovery in May, of an unmarked gravesite where 215 children were buried at a former residential school in Kamloops. Another 751 unmarked graves were found in June, at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.
The revelations have prompted several questions, including whether Canada Day should be celebrated at all.
Leah Thordarson, president of the Westside Celebration Committee, said the group considered cancelling this year’s event but chose to go ahead as planned.
“We want this year to be about acknowledging that we must do better. We want a Canada that is equitable, inclusive, safe for all and celebrates diversity. As such, our theme for 2021 is ‘Celebrating Canadian Ethnic Diversity,’” said Thordarson.
Thordarson said the organization has always attempted to be a bridge between Westbank First Nation and the City of West Kelowna.
The group is hosting a drive-thru cupcake station on July 1, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Westridge Shopping Centre on Main Street.
“In honour of the children who did not make it home from residential schools, their families and all survivors, we will be placing an orange heart on each cupcake and encourage attendees to wear orange — a visual reminder that all children have rights, deserve to be loved and that every child matters,” said Thordarson.
The event will also feature a show and shine and musical entertainment from local students.
Thordarson said the event has always been held in partnership with Westbank First Nations.
“From inspiring us with traditional dancing to teaching demonstrations and blessings from Elders, their involvement is part of what makes Canada Day in our community so special,” Thordarson said.
“It is our hope that we continue to share their stories and celebrate their heritage whenever we have a chance, especially during Canada Day celebrations.”
For the most part, Canada Day and Westside Daze celebrations are planned to be virtual this year. For a full list of events, go to westsidedaze.com.
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