Flags will fly at half mast at Salmon Arm city hall on Canada Day. (File photo)

Column: Reflections on Canada Day and reconciliation

Council Report by City of Salmon Arm Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond

The first long weekend of the summer is typically marked by celebrating Canada Day.

We gather, we laugh, we sing, we play, we visit and share meals in gratitude for our love of country and one another.

This year, the City of Salmon Arm had not planned or approved any Canada Day events as a result of the provincial health orders. But much more importantly, in light of the confirmation of the location of more than a thousand graves of child victims of the residential school system, we must focus on the grief, the sorrow, in condolence and respect for the lives lost and the trauma lived.

Yes, Canada holds the promise of many gifts, inclusion, diversity, kindness and care. Chief among them, this Canada Day, is the First Nations gracious and loving offer of Reconciliation despite the horrific harm of the colonial system that continues to this day.

If we are to fulfill that promise, then we must make room for the grief, stand in solidarity and embrace the journey of Reconciliation on Canada Day and, indeed, every day forward.

Read more: 751 unmarked graves at Saskatchewan residential school: First Nation

Read more: Brace yourself for more graves: Splatsin Chief

We can start by honouring this time of deep grief and terrible sorrow in quiet contemplation, and continue on that collective journey with profound gratitude for our continued welcome on the Unceded Territory of the Secwepemc Nation.

And as part of this healing journey, there will be gatherings and storytelling, songs will be sung and meals will be shared. And when we do it in their memory, we honour that promise.

In solidarity and mourning, the City of Salmon Arm will light city hall in orange and the flags will remain at half mast.

Louise Wallace Richmond is a councillor with the City of Salmon Arm.

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