Calgary mayor says Canada Day fireworks will go ahead, but to 'honour' residential school children

Calgary's mayor says the city's Canada Day fireworks will go ahead, but not as a celebration.

Many municipalities are mourning, not celebrating, this year following findings of residential school graves

Fireworks are seen over Calgary's Centre Street Bridge on July 1, 2017. The city's mayor said this year, a moment of silence will precede the radio broadcast of music accompanying the fireworks display. (City of Calgary)

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

Calgary's mayor says the city's Canada Day fireworks will go ahead, but not as a celebration.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi told council on Monday that a moment of silence will interrupt the local music soundtrack accompanying the fireworks, broadcast on CJSW on July 1, as a way to honour children victimized by the residential school system.

Nenshi said that he's spoken to Indigenous elders about the decision. 

"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 is something to really build upon, to use it as an opportunity to talk about Indigenous history … and to help people commit themselves to reconciliation," the mayor said.

A number of communities across the country have opted for a day of reflection or mourning to mark the annual holiday this year, following the discovery of what's estimated to be hundreds of childrens' unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

St. Albert has cancelled its fireworks display. The city said the decision was made out of empathy for members of the community dealing with the intergenerational trauma of the residential school system.

The city later added that it was not asked to cancel or reschedule the fireworks or other Canada Day activities, but had scaled back plans due to the uncertainty of public health measures.

Edmonton's fireworks display is also going ahead. 

"I hope this Canada Day represents a turning point, honouring all we've been through, while looking to a better future for us all," Nenshi had said in a release last week.

Canada Day also represents the date most public health restrictions will be lifted in Alberta. 

Support is available for anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential school and those who are triggered by the latest reports.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for residential school survivors and others affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.