Iqaluit’s Canada Day events to revolve around family connections

The city’s recreation department tailored this year’s activities to acknowledge Canada’s oppression of Indigenous Peoples

Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell asked that the flags in front of the Iqaluit Elders’ Home be lowered to half-mast after news broke that the remains of 751 children’s bodies were located near the former Marieval Indian Residential school, which is about 160 kilometres east of Regina. This year, the Iqaluit’s Canada Day celebrations will revolve around family connections. (Photo by David Venn)

By Nunatsiaq News

Iqaluit will observe this year’s Canada Day with a subdued “family connections” theme, following many communities across the country in a reckoning over the Canada’s residential school system.

Hundreds of unmarked graves have been located at two residential schools — one in B.C. and one in Saskatchewan — over the past two months, and other First Nations have started their own searches. The news has sparked difficult conversations about how many Indigenous children never made it home from residential school, and how trauma from the experience affected the ones who did.

The City of Iqaluit’s June 29 announcement did not mention Canada Day, but referred only to “July 1st celebrations.” The city’s recreation department programmer, Billy Andersen, said the city’s job is to bring the community together.

“[As more] atrocities that were committed against Indigenous Peoples in Canada are brought to light, we are forced, as a nation, to confront in a more meaningful way the harsh realities … that survivors have been sharing with us for decades,” he said in a news release the city issued to describe its change in approach to the holiday.

The department altered the nature of the activities it would offer this year after councillors voted on June 22 to change the normal events to ones that focused on personal reflection.

Usually, the city would host a parade, but this year it will not.

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Although, that’s partly to do with COVID-19 restrictions, as the parade was cancelled last year as well, according to a written statement from the city, provided to Nunatsiaq News by communications manager Lisa Milosavljevic.

“We also have been required to refrain from hosting large-scale gatherings which means that our other activities have also needed to shift,” the statement says.

Here is a list of the planned activities:

  • Free public skate at Arnaitok from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m. (limited to the first 25 people),
  • Free turf time at AWG Arena from 1 to 3 p.m. (limited to the first 25 people),
  • Free swim at the Aquatics Centre from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. (limited to lane swim),
  • Youth centre bonfire outside the youth centre from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (limited to 25 people),
  • Tukisigiarvik Inuit village and family celebration at Iqaluit Square (hours to be determined),
  • Expect family-focused pop ups throughout the day across different areas of the community that will have food and drink.
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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Maple syrup will be banned. on

    This council really needs to knock it off with the endless ceremonialism and virtue signalling and finally get down to work.
    Roads, potholes, new dump etc.

    • Posted by Jae on

      Council is doing a great job and I hope they keep up the good work!

  2. Posted by Thirsty on

    so thirsty. would like the bars to be open for canada day.

  3. Posted by Thanks to City on

    I think the City should be commended for its handling of this and Nunatsiaq news should be praised for its factual reporting of this heart wrenching issue!!!

  4. Posted by Jay Arnakak on

    I think Canada Day should be about demonstrable achievements in human rights. I mean look at percentage of Canadians who get in the health care system as an end-of-life proposition because of lack of access to good health care; look at percentage of aboriginal population in the criminal justice system; social services interventions; public infrastructure investments (water, water, water); equitable funding and human resourcing in the aboriginal education system; etc.

    Let us celebrate Canada Day by putting governments to task to make long-term commitments to address these long-standing issues (infrastructure and aboriginal education should consolidated federally and put into a sacrosanct aboriginal-crown treaty arrangements, for example).

    • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

      Jay, I totally agree with your partial assessment of and the resulting need for positive action and results in our great country.

      However, there is one thing missing. Money. Each of the needs requires tons of money. Where is that money going to come from? Do we increase taxes That’s a tough one? Corporate taxes? Naw cuz that is going to cost jobs (less tax and more need) and increase the costs of goods.
      There is only one pocket that will come from – yours and mine. Can you afford to pay more in personal or corporate taxes? I sure can’t. I’m on a small pension. And if the cost of goods increase, so does everything else. A catch 22 fo sure.


      • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

        I should add before all others jump on me. LOL

        Education and Jobs would sure put a dent into our problems. Let’s get our kids educated and they will get the local jobs. Trades training needs to be encouraged. How many jobs in the trades are filled by transient workers here in Nunavut?

        Let’s get our own kids in those jobs and they can pay taxes and address the other needs.

        • Posted by You Asked on

          To answer your question, a recent COVID-19 press release from the GN stated that more than 2600 people in the construction trades went through 2 weeks of quarantine in 2020 before coming to Nunavut.

  5. Posted by SJW on

    Family celebrations? Thats a joke right? That would require most parents to be sober today, and judging by the amount of public drinking all evening yesterday I doubt they are sobered up before this evening.


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