- Councillors in Victoria have decided to leave the option of fireworks for next year’s Canada Day celebration open.
Councillors voted to ask the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations to participate in or co-host an event focused on an Indigenous culture that does not include fireworks.
However, when the issue was carried before the council for approval on Thursday, Mayor Lisa Helps proposed changes, including the possibility of fireworks, which were unanimously approved. Help informed councillors that she and Coun.
Marianne Alto had met with the chief and council of the Songhees Nation, who told her that they weren’t ready to say what they wanted from the event but encouraged the city to apply for funding for “the whole shebang” with fireworks. “I think the points are let’s be broadly inclusive while not closing the door to any opportunities for additional funding,” Alto said.
Councillors are debating the event now because city staff is preparing a funding application to Canadian Heritage’s Celebrate Canada program before the Nov. 21 deadline.
In an interview, Songhees Nation Chief Ron Sam stated that he needs time to ask his community what they want to see for a July 1 event. Some people in Greater Victoria, according to Sam, believe the Songhees Nation is in charge of Canada Day.
He claimed a backlash against the country when the Victoria council decided not to produce a Canada Day broadcast last summer following the discovery of possibly unmarked graves near a former residential school in Kamloops. Change is always tricky, but I believe we’re just trying to look for a balance.
Yes, Canada Day is important, but what has come to light and how we celebrate as a country needs to be addressed,” Sam said.
After Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe stepped down from the event, councillors voted to form a sub-committee of several council members to assist staff with Canada Day planning. Helps stated that she plans to chair the subcommittee and hopes to create an inclusive event for those who have felt excluded and celebratory for those who want to celebrate.
Source: Times colonist
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