Leaders of the Manitoulin Island First Nations have asked people not to celebrate Canada Day.

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Kirti Pathak
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Manitoulin Island First Nations

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Patsy Corbiere will not be doing anything to commemorate July 1st. And she hopes that her Manitoulin Island neighbors and Canadians, in general, will follow suit. Corbiere is the Chief of the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation as well as the Tribal Chair of the United Chiefs and Council of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM).

This year, UCCMM is asking people not to celebrate Canada Day. Instead, the group is encouraging people to utilize the day to learn more about the history of residential schools and their ongoing effects. The UCCMM issued a statement about Canada Day celebrations in response to news last month that the remains of approximately 215 children were discovered at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Following the news from Kamloops and the tough conversations it sparked across the country, some communities have been debating how, if at all, to celebrate Canada Day this year. City council in Victoria decided unanimously earlier this month to cancel the city's planned Canada Day programming. Wilmot, a town near Kitchener, Ontario, did the same thing last week. Corbiere believes that the traditional Canada Day celebrations are inappropriate at this time, as people throughout the country process the news, learn more about residential schools, and revisit pain.

Some Manitoulin Island communities are still planning small, COVID-friendly Canada Day events. In the Northeast, the City of Greater Sudbury is a regular sponsor of the Canada Day event presented by Science North and other organizations. According to a city representative, the city has no information to provide on such plans at this time.

Meanwhile, North Bay Mayor Al McDonald stated that the city is "sensitive to what's going around the country," but that no preparations for virtual celebrations are in the works at this moment. McDonald stated that the city has not received any direct requests to rescind plans.

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