As municipalities cancel or change Canada Day events, the City of Timmins virtual event is going ahead as planned.
The discovery of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across Canada has sparked calls to ‘cancel’ Canada Day celebrations.
Due to the pandemic, the Timmins celebration announced earlier this month is virtual for the second year in a row.
Tourism Timmins and the Timmins Celebrates committee's week-long virtual event runs from June 27 to July 4 to celebrate Canada Day, National Indigenous Peoples Day, Multicultural Day and St. Jean Baptiste Day. It uses the Snapd app and features performances, a concert by The Trews and fireworks.
In the announcement for the celebration, Marnie Lapierre, Tourism Timmins coordinator of festivals, events and special projects, said the performances and programming showcase the "diversity and inclusion of Timmins."
“We’re excited to partner with Snapd this year to provide a seamless way to celebrate. Content is on demand. You can access it wherever you have data. You can choose to celebrate at the time and date that works best for you while we all stay apart and observe the current COVID-19 regulations. This really is the next best thing to a big festival, although we can’t wait to celebrate with everyone again in person," she said.
TimminsToday asked the City of Timmins if there had been a discussion about changing the local Canada Day celebration.
A local comment was not provided, however, a statement in regards to the July 1 fireworks from Snapd was.
"The word triumph suggests victory and is often used in the context of overcoming adversity. We selected this theme for our virtual fireworks given the difficult year we have collectively faced due to the pandemic and the brighter future ahead. However, there is a deeper tragedy that we wish to acknowledge, namely the thousands of children who were sent to residential schools and those who never returned. The fireworks display will include an Indigenous cultural segment to honour these precious lives and bring focus to a longstanding injustice that our nation must overcome," it reads.
The city said it is working with the mayor "on a video statement that we will be posting ahead of tomorrow’s celebrations as well."
In Northern Ontario, Sudbury cancelled its Canada Day celebrations to "stand alongside Indigenous peoples in Canada". In North Bay, city hall will be illuminated in orange in support of the victims and families of the residential school system. Sault Ste. Marie is not holding events, with COVID-19 restrictions and the uncovering of residential school graves factoring into its decision.
Timmins is located on the traditional territory of Mattagami First Nation, which isn't having an official Canada Day celebration. Moose Cree First Nation and the Town of Moosonee also won't be officially celebrating. Instead, communities are using July 1 as a day to remember residential school survivors and those who didn't make it home.
Recently, it was announced a local monument honouring residential school survivors and missing children is being planned at Hollinger Park in Timmins. At this week's council meeting, the city also approved officially recognizing 10 Indigenous days.
A 24-hour residential school crisis line, established to provide support to former students and their families, can be accessed at 1-866-925-4419.