The Merry Dairy will 'pause' business in Ottawa on Canada Day

A popular Ottawa ice cream store will remain closed on Canada Day, saying it didn't feel right to celebrate Canada's birthday following the discovery of a mass grave at the site of a former residential school in British Columbia.

The Merry Dairy says it will "take a pause and be closed" on July 1 this year.

"On Canada Day, we come together to celebrate Canada as one of the best and greatest countries on earth. But to truly be the best and greatest country means owning up to the brutal facts of our past and present," said the Merry Dairy in a post on Twitter.

"Each of us needs to do our own part to atone, reconcile, and live together as fellow human beings with the respect and dignity each of us deserve."

Last week, the remains of 215 children were found buried in a mass grave near a residential school in Kamloops.

A Canada Day pause

— The Merry Dairy (@TheMerryDairy) June 1, 2021

"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission told us that countless children suffered and died in residential schools. The discovery this week of the remains of 215 children is almost too much to bear," said the Merry Berry.

"Imagine the loss and the suffering of those children, and their families, and the others who are yet to be named and remembered is simply overwhelming. There is no way for us to separate the joy of one day, from the agony of another."

Appearing on Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron Wednesday afternoon, Merry Dairy owner Marlene Haley said Canada Day is typically a busy day for the business.

"It just didn't feel right this year," said Haley. "We talked as a team about how we can acknowledge our history and what has happened and it just felt right. We decided that we will be closed on Canada Day this year."

Haley said the employees spent a couple of days thinking about the decision to close on July 1 following the discovery of the mass grave in Kamloops.

"What's different is it's just hard to be joyful about our history on a day like Canada Day knowing that this happened," said Haley.

"It's a somber day until we can reconcile with this part of our history."

Haley hopes the decision to close the Merry Dairy on Canada Day will lead to discussions with families about the residential school system.

"If your little one asks you why the ice cream shop is closed on Canada Day, tell them because it's for all the kids who never got to enjoy the ice cream or any other treat on a beautiful sunny day, with their own families, in their own homes," said the Merry Dairy statement.

"If they ask what they can do, maybe one thing is to draw or write a message of love and healing."