Thunder Bay

Kenora cancels plans for Canada Day fireworks display

Kenora is cancelling its planned Canada Day fireworks celebration, following a call made last week by an area First Nations leader.

Shoal Lake 40 First Nation Chief Vernon Redsky asked city to cancel celebrations

The City of Kenora on Monday announced it won't go ahead with a fireworks display on Canada Day. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

Kenora is cancelling its planned Canada Day fireworks celebration, following a call made last week by an area First Nations leader.

The northwestern Ontario city on Monday announced it wasn't going ahead with the July 1 fireworks display, instead intending it to be a day of reflection after the recent discovery of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across the country.

"This decision is about letting Indigenous and First Peoples know that we see them, we mourn with them and we support them. Postponing these fireworks is about acknowledging that we need to do better as a society and a Nation," the city said in a written statement.

Shoal Lake 40 Chief Vernon Redsky had issued an open letter to Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard and councillors last week, calling for a cancellation of Canada Day celebrations.

Redsky said celebrating Canada Day while Indigenous people and communities are grieving would equate to dancing on the graves of the children.

"Kenora's leadership has spoken often in the past about respect for our treaty relationship, about "reconciliation" and you've made some fine gestures. But, if the City of Kenora proceeds with the celebration of this Canada Day, in the midst of our grieving, all those words and gestures will be proven hollow," Redsky wrote. 

"If you celebrate a country that intentionally inflicted these losses on us, you will have broken whatever positive relationship you might have said you wanted with the Anishinaabeg of our territory."

Redsky said if the request went unheeded, he would ask Grand Council Treaty 3 Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh to have the Treaty 3 flag removed from Kenora city hall.

In its statement, the city said it remains committed to working in partnership with First Nations communities in Treaty 3 territory. 

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