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 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.
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.