City of Waterloo to replace traditional Canada Day celebrations with public art installations

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The City of Waterloo has decided to replace its typical Canada Day celebrations with a series of temporary public art installations.

In a statement Friday morning, city officials said that in recognition of COVID-related restrictions, no large community events will be held.

Instead, they will be presenting a series of seven temporary public art installations at parks throughout the city, similair to activities held last year due to the pandemic.

“Canada Day is an occasion to recognize that Indigenous peoples are the original peoples, and that today many cultures make up the fabric of Canadian identity,” read the statement. “This Canada Day, we should all set aside some time to learn about the truth and reconciliation. We can also think about what we can do to truly reconcile the actions we have taken in the past, and identify and take meaningful actions that bring about to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and forge a better future, together.”

According to officials, the artworks will explore the stories and histories of the various peoples, communities, and nations who have called and continue to call the city home.

The installations will also focus on “our responsibility to each other and/or to the land; what it means to celebrate or not celebrate the past, present, and future of Canada; and, Waterloo as a community full of diverse identities, tradition, and celebrations,” the statement read.

Earlier this week, Wilmot Township’s Canada Day committee decided it won’t hold any formal celebrations this year, also out of a show of respect to the Indigenous community.

The decision came after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at a former residential school site in Kamloops, B.C. The committee said a Canada Day celebration would be insensitive in the wake of the discovery.

The City of Waterloo said details about each installation, including artist statements, will be available starting June 24 on the city’s Canada Day webpage.

The artworks will be installed by June 30 and will be on display until July 30.

KITCHENER CANADA DAY

The City of Kitchener has planned some "COVID-19 safe, Canada Day focused activities."

However, officials said in a statement to CTV Kitchener they recognize many local residents are mourning following the discovery at the Kamloops residential school and the Islamophobic attack in London.

"We are asking all those celebrating in Kitchener to please be respectful of the grief felt by many in our community and consider learning more about some of the significant challenges facing our country including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action and Islamophobia," a statement from the city said in part.

The city also encouraged residents to consider supporting an Indigenous artist or business, making a donation to a local Indigenous or Muslim organization or observing a moment of silence to honour the 215 Indigenous children and the family killed in London.

REFLECTION AND REMEMBRANCE IN CAMBRIDGE

Officials with the City of Cambridge said Canada Day should be a "time for reflection and remembrance."

"The City of Cambridge asks all who are celebrating Canada Day to please be respectful of Indigenous History Month (June) and consider learning more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action," a statement from the city said in part.

There are no large gatherings planned for Canada Day this year due to the pandemic, but there are events planned for this year.

The city said there are three Canadian art installations in Cambridge and the Old Post Office Canada Day projection montage could start on July 2, but it won't go ahead until the region moves into Step 2 of reopening.

That montage will include a moment of silence for the 215 Indigenous children buried at the Kamloops residential school site.

VIRTUAL CANADA DAY IN STRATFORD

The City of Stratford will have virtual celebrations again this year.

An hour-long show featuring Dayning Manning and Dan Stacey & The Black Swans stream on the city's Facebook page starting at 8 p.m.

City officials said celebrations this year can't ignore or overlook the remains found at the Kamloops residential school.

“I urge everyone to take the opportunity on Canada Day to reflect not only on what makes this country great, but also on what we can do to make it better for everyone,” Mayor Dan Mathieson said in a news release. “And that means acknowledging the mistakes of the past, learning from them, working toward reconciliation, and moving forward together.”