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Melville, Sask. postpones Canada Day in light of unmarked graves discovery at Marieval

The City of Melville has decided to postpone its Canada Day celebrations following the discovery of an estimated 751 unmarked graves found on Cowessess First Nation. File / Getty Images

The City of Melville is postponing its Canada Day celebrations, a decision made in light of the discovery of an estimated 751 unmarked graves found at the former site of Marieval Indian Residential School.

Melville city council came to the resolution on Friday night during a special meeting.

“City council expressed great concern for our neighbours, friends, and families deeply affected by the situation,” the city wrote in a press release Saturday.

“Therefore, out of respect for our neighbours on the Cowessess First Nation, all residential school survivors and their families, city council decided to postpone the Canada Day celebrations while our communities are mourning.”

Read more: Three northern Saskatchewan communities ‘pause’ Canada Day

The decision came from one of three recommendations brought forward to council, one of which was the postponement.

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The two other approved motions asked that the mayor along with city council to “establish communication with the leadership of local First Nations in an effort to plan a cross-cultural celebration in the summer of 2021.”

“Some of [Cowessess First Nation members] work in our community, some of them attend our schools, utilize our hospitals, our facilities and so on,” Mayor of Melville Walter Streelasky said.

“They are part of our community, perhaps an extended community because of distance, but we are not that far away. They are our neighbours and because of that, we chose, as a council, that they are grieving and we grieve with them.”

Council is also encouraging Melville residents to place a candle in their window or front step or hang an orange shirt in their window to show their support.

Read more: Remembering the lives lost: Vigil held for those buried on Cowessess First Nation

“Canada Day is a time to be thankful and celebrate our freedom, our diversity, our health care and many more things,” the press release read.

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“We are a nation built on the strength of the diversity of our people, the ability to help our neighbour and respect one another.

“The recent discovery of unmarked graves across the countyy and now at Cowessess is a sad part of our nation’s history. It’s a time to reflect and mourn with our Indigenous community.”

Melville joins Lac La Ronge Indian Band, La Ronge, Air Ronge, Wahpeton Dakota Nation, Meadow Lake and Flying Dust First Nation as other communities in Saskatchewan pressing pause on Canada Day.

Anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience can access the 24-hour, toll-free and confidential National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

Click to play video: 'La Ronge mayor on cancelling Canada Day events'
La Ronge mayor on cancelling Canada Day events

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