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Maritime cities not following Victoria, B.C’s lead and cancelling Canada Day programming

Click to play video: 'Some say there should be no Canada Day celebrations' Some say there should be no Canada Day celebrations
WATCH: Many had hoped that this year would being lower COVID-19 case numbers and the return of fireworks and gatherings for Canada Day, but there are some who say there should be no celebration at all. Travis Fortnum reports. – Jun 14, 2021

As #CancelCanadaDay sees residents call for their communities to follow the lead of Victoria, B.C., Maritime cities say they’re mostly moving forward with pandemic-safe parties.

Victoria city council voted unanimously to cancel scheduled Canada Day programming in the wake of the Kamloops Residential School discovery.

The city will instead produce programming with First Nations partners to be broadcast later in the summer.

Read more: Victoria scraps online Canada Day event after remains found at Kamloops residential school

July 1 would have seen a lineup of virtual celebrations, with festivities limited by the COVID-19 pandemic for the second year in a row.

Global News reached out to cities across Atlantic Canada to see what they are going to do. Those who responded say they’re not following Victoria’s lead.

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New Brunswick’s capital is moving forward with a virtual performance, with a news release promising more details as the day draws nearer.

“Our virtual broadcast last year was watched by thousands of people,” writes Fredericton Tourism representative Charles Barry.

“We hope to have the same level of participation this year and bring us all together virtually. It also allows us to support our performing artist community who have been impacted greatly by the pandemic.”

Moncton communications director Isabelle LeBlanc also told Global News plans are still in the works.

“Our flag-raising ceremony will take place,” she says, “however we expect the annual celebration to be much more solemn this year.”

Saint John will also move forward with its celebrations in a primarily virtual manner.

In Nova Scotia, a spokesperson for the City of Halifax wasn’t able to provide information by deadline.

Read more: Sackville High School creates community tribute for children lost at residential schools

On Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown is set to host a free celebration boasting music food and more.

“There has been no discussion of cancelling Canada Day celebrations locally here in Charlottetown,” says spokesperson Isaac MacDonald.

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He says staff have worked with various organizations to diversify programming.

“Groups include the Black Cultural Society, PEI Association for Newcomers, PridePEI, L’nuey, and Carrefour de l’Isle-Saint-Jean,” he says.

Indigenous culture critic Lynn Gehl says the continuation of celebrations is disappointing, this year in particular.

“I think that’s unfortunate,” she says.

“I think that they don’t understand the grieving process. I think that they’re disrespectful. They’re disrespectful of the very indigenous nations whose land they’re on.”

She says if she had her wish, Canada Day would be done with altogether.

“It’s a real insult to Indigenous people because it’s a celebration of our genocide.

“An ongoing genocide. An evergreen, ongoing genocide,” Gehl says.

Indigenous relations expert Eileen Alma says there is a way to both celebrate and commemorate.

“If they do decide to go ahead, I hope that it is including within their itinerary for the day some real thoughtful activities and events that can continue to open up these conversations,” she says.

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