For the second year in a row, Canada Day will be different than those previous. Last year it was solely due to the pandemic, which still limits people from mass-gathering today. For 2021, it will have an even more solemn tone as Canadians confront just how real the suffering of Indigenous people has been throughout history as the world discovers the concealed remains of hundreds of Indigenous people at the sites of former residential schools. There have been calls to cancel Canada Day, but no Dufferin municipality has knowingly come close to acting upon it. The towns of Grand Valley, Shelburne and Orangeville are all acknowledging Canada Day, albeit in different ways.
On June 28, 2021, The Town of Grand Valley posted to Facebook a message from Mayor Steve Soloman relating that the town would still be lighting fireworks on Thursday, July 1, at dusk. People are told to watch from their homes, as gatherings are still limited due to COVID-19 related restrictions. Soloman’s message was the following.
“While we acknowledge Canada Day can be a deeply wounding time for some because of the Country’s past grave injustices.
It is also a time as Canadians to reflect upon the past and rededicate ourselves to continue to learn from our mistakes and do better.
The way forward is not to stop aspiring to being a better country, it is through acknowledging the past grave injustices and trying to do something better.
I urge every Canadian to spend more time educating themselves on our history and who we were, who we are now, and who we want to be. Celebrate Canada for what we want it to be in the future – a country that celebrates and embraces diversity.
We are not perfect, but this is still a great country and one that is worthy of our celebration.
Join the Town of Grand Valley and the BIA from your homes as we light up the sky in celebration and reflection on July 1.”
Town staff later indicated that the fireworks would originate from the Grand Valley and District Community Centre.
Shelburne is taking a decidedly different approach than Grand Valley.
“A typical sort of event for Canada Day as in years past, complete with fireworks and celebratory fanfare, would not only be tone-deaf, but I think it would also be disrespectful and narrow-minded,” asserted Shelburne’s Mayor Wade Mills at the June 28, 2021 council meeting. “Thousands of our Indigenous brothers and sisters are hurting and grieving right now.”
Mayor Mills then said how there is still an opportunity for the Town of Shelburne to mark the day.
“We can certainly still acknowledge, in perhaps a quieter and more understated way, the good that this country has and still does represent, while also fully and properly acknowledging and reflecting upon the very deep and lasting shortcomings that we’re still wrestling with,” pronounced Mills. “And I think we also then can consider what each of us can do to be better going forward.”
Councillor Kyle Fegan, Chair of Shelburne’s Canada Day Committee, said that he agreed with the mayor.
“In my mind it may not mean a lot, but it’s trying to take steps forward in a partnership that is bringing everybody together, which in my mind is what Canada Day should be about anyway,” affirmed Fegan. ” It also gives an opportunity for those of us who may be turning a blind eye to these kinds of atrocities to actually sit down and reflect on this.”
Shelburne’s Canada Day Committee is holding a Drive-in Movie night for the family at Fiddle Park (515677 Dufferin County Road 11). An acknowledgement of the recent discoveries of hundreds of dead Indigenous people, in addition to a message from the mayor and a moment of reflection, will replace the planned virtual fireworks display. The Orangeville Banner reports that the movies shown will be ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’, as well as ‘Doolittle.’ The event will open at 6:30 and will go until midnight. Attendance is free.
Mayor Mills also mentioned staff were looking into whether Shelburne’s townhall could be illuminated in orange lighting.
“Canada Day must be something for all Canadians,” declared Shelburne’s Mayor Mills. “And quite frankly, any true celebration can only be achieved in my mind when all Canadians are able to fully take part in that.”
Orangeville’s Canada Day commemoration will be even more low-key than Shelburne’s.
At the June 28, 2021, Orangeville council meeting, Mayor Sandy Brown proposed having Orangeville Townhall and the Alder Street Community Centre illuminated in orange lighting from June 30 to July 2. Brown delineated how the Alder complex has hosted Indigenous ceremonies and being home to the town’s Indigenous flag and the medicine wheel. Council supported this unanimously.
“This is another thought about symbolism and support to our Indigenous community,” announced Brown.
Mayor Brown then shared how an Indigenous drumming group called the Eagleheart Singers will do a private performance. It is not a public event due to COVID-restrictions. A recording of the proceedings is set to be uploaded onto the Town of Orangeville’s YouTube Channel for community access. A $6,000 limit was designated for the event.
“I just want to say that I think this is an absolutely beautiful idea,” pronounced Councillor Lisa Post. “I think it’s a lovely tribute, I think so many Canadians right now are struggling with how to celebrate Canada Day because it definitely feels a little different this year with some of the discoveries that have been made.”
References – Canada Day 2021 in Orangeville, Shelburne, Grand Valley
- Town of Grand Valley’s Message from Mayor Soloman Facebook Post – Facebook
- June 28, 2021 Town of Shelburne Council Meeting Part One – Town of Shelburne YouTube Channel
- June 28, 2021 Agenda – Town of Shelburne Council Meeting – Town of Shelburne
- June 28, 2021 Town of Orangeville Council Meeting – Town of Orangeville YouTube Channel
- June 28, 2021 Agenda – Town of Orangeville Council Meeting – Town of Orangeville
- Indigenous people ask Canadians to ‘put their pride aside’ and reflect this Canada Day – CBC News
- Amid calls to cancel Canada Day, historian says opposition to the holiday has a long history
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- DRIVE-IN MOVIES FOR CANADA DAY ON JULY 01, 2021 – Orangeville Banner
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