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Canada Day Address

June 30 2021

Letter to citizens         

July 1, 2021

Oki! Hello!

Thursday, July 1, is the day we celebrate Canada Day from coast to coast! A day that has been traditionally marked by speeches that extoll the virtues and achievements of this relatively young country, by pioneer settlers and waves of immigrants from far and wide who embraced this great country and made it their home.

But as great as Canada may be, these past weeks have brought to light truths that must no longer be denied today, nor ignored in the classroom history books from here on. Our sensitivity and sympathy as Canadians has been heightened by the news of 215 children buried in mass graves in BC and the hundred of unmarked graves in Saskatchewan on the lands of residential schools.  These events should become a starting point of conversation to comprehend the lingering negative effects of multi-generational pains and sufferings due to the Residential School trauma inflicted on the Indigenous community.

For me, Canada Day will always be a time of reflection as to what it means to be a Canadian.  It will always be a time of gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities this country gave me as an immigrant, a country that I deeply respect and that is deeply beloved around the world.  But it will also more than ever be a time for sober reflection on our history with a greater determination to do my part towards Truth and Reconciliation; a time to understand the past, to accept its truths with a renewed hope to forge new paths towards a more unified Canada with equal opportunities for all. 

As Mayor, and with the support of Council, we supported our Cardston High School Indigenous students’ idea of having a monument in our Town that would honor all school children who died at Residential Schools, and the Baker Massacre.  The traditional ceremony that took place at the unveiling of the Niitsitapi Monument was historic, bringing together First Nation students of Ms. Kara Baldwin’s class, descendants of a survivor of the Baker Massacre, Members of Chief and Council and of Town’s Council, members of Blood Tribe Police, RCMP and Town’s Peace Officer, School Board trustees, CHS & Westwind School Division staff, local religious leaders, along with Elders from the Blood Tribe.

Last week, on National Indigenous Peoples day, another significant ceremony took place with the hoisting of the Blackfoot Confederacy flag at the cenotaph. It is there as a visible sign of our First Nations presence in Cardston, a town that is located on traditional Black Foot Confederacy land. Here again the Blood Tribe Police , the RCMP and our Peace Officer were there as an honour guard to mark this historic moment where members of Chief and Council and of Town’s Council were present, a ceremony blessed by the presence, prayers and words of wisdom of Harriet HeavyRunner, a  Blood Tribe Elder.

These are concrete steps that represent our desire as Town and Council to pursue meaningful paths towards reconciliation with our First Nations neighbors. The road is long before us, but with baby steps, we started on a significant journey with a brightness of hope.

We recognize that a celebration of Canada Day has been a controversial topic. We discussed this day with a local Blood Tribe Elder. We watched some of the other municipalities such as Calgary, who are also moving ahead with fireworks, while honouring victims of residential schools. We echo the intention of Mayor Nenshi when he says regarding his consultation with Indigenous Elders including Treaty 7 leadership; "Their advice to us was not to move forward in division and anger but, in fact, to be able to move forward together as a nation and to use this Canada Day not as something to cancel, but as something to really build upon, to use it as an opportunity to talk about Indigenous history … and to help people commit themselves to reconciliation."

And so, this year, on this Canada Day, there will be no Party in the Park celebration in our Town as in pre-covid times. The fireworks should be observed as a display that symbolically expresses not only the end of 15 months of Covid restrictions that has been hard on so many, especially on our youth, but also as a burning determination towards implementation of Truth and Reconciliation calls to action at all levels of Government.  We all can have a part: Seek the truth, no matter how painful, because the truth will make us free.  That is our sincere hope, on this 2021 Canada Day.

I am looking forward to giving a short address followed by an honour song at the event on Thursday night at 10:45pm.

 

Mayor Maggie Kronen

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Comments

Rick West

Thoughtful and well expressed