Sask premier will celebrate 'low-key' Canada Day, encourages reflection on nation's history

The Premier of Saskatchewan plans to celebrate Canada Day at a “low-key” event, but said he will take the opportunity to reflect on the history of the nation, both positive and negative, this year.

Premier Scott Moe said the choice to postpone or skip Canada Day celebrations this year is appropriate, in light of the discovery of  an estimated 751 unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School located on the Cowessess First Nation.

“Chief [Cadmus] Delorme has spoken about how this was a previous generation, this was none of us of this generation as individuals but we do have the opportunity as people of today’s generation to determine how we act and move forward as an inclusive society,” Moe said.

He said it lies with governments to make positive decisions and provide opportunities for closure. Moe encouraged residents to participate in a display at the Saskatchewan Legislature where backpacks filled with school supplies will be placed on the steps of the building. He said the school supplies will then be donated.

“Celebrate however you feel is appropriate for you, but take some time to reflect on our shared history,” Moe said.

“This is a great country for the most part because as individuals, organizations and governments we do respect and value all people regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. When you look back historically the worst moments in our history are when we’ve forgotten to do that.”

In Moose Jaw, a rally will be held in solidarity with Cowessess First Nation and the Indigenous communityon July 1.

The Standing in Integrity Canada Day Rally hosted by Our Home on Native Land, will begin at 12 p.m. at 220 Main St. N. The group will walk towards Athabasca Street.

Canada Day fireworks are set to go ahead but will stop at the halfway point and a moment of silence will be observed. 

Melville postponed its Canada Day parade and fireworks out of respect for its neighbours on the First Nation, as well as all residential school survivors and their families.

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If you are a former residential school student in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, or the Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll free line at 1-800-721-0066.

Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous people are available here.