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Regina hosting Buffalo Day, candlelight vigil in place of Canada Day celebrations

A movement to cancel Canada Day has swept the nation following recent discoveries of unmarked residential school graves, and several communities in Saskatchewan have joined the motion, including Regina.
Hundreds of backpacks line the steps of the Legislative Building in Regina
Hundreds of backpacks line the steps of the Legislative Building in Regina, as part of a community-organized visual showing of the 751 unmarked graves recently discovered at Cowessess First Nation.

A movement to cancel Canada Day has swept the nation following recent discoveries of unmarked residential school graves, and several communities in Saskatchewan have joined the motion, including Regina.

The calls began following discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves connected to residential schools near Kamloops, B.C. and on Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.

La Ronge and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band were among the first to announce they will not be celebrating Canada Day in their communities this year, later joined by Wahpeton Dakota Nation and Flying Dust First Nation.

Melville has postponed its planned activities until July 8, as shared on social media. Meadow Lake, located just north of Cowessess First Nation, also cancelled previously planned fireworks.

Residents are instead urged to place candles on their front steps or display orange shirts in windows to show support for residential school survivors.

Regina is one community that will be hosting Indigenous-focused events in place of Canada Day celebrations, to provide support and educational opportunities to residents.

The Queen City actually cancelled its Canada Day events months ago, citing pandemic-related concerns about the logistics of planning the city’s usual celebrations, but several groups in the city have now stepped up to instead fill the day.

The Buffalo People Arts Institute is hosting Buffalo Day on July 1, which will take place in the newly-renamed Buffalo Meadows Park. Scheduled events include a morning pipe ceremony, storytelling sessions, art activities and more.

Local community members have also planned an evening candlelight vigil at the Legislative Building and on Albert Bridge, to remember the hundreds of Indigenous children who attended residential schools, as well as a smudge walk at the First Nations University of Canada.

Moose Jaw residents are also being encouraged to attend the Standing in Integrity rally as their Canada Day celebrations.  

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters has said that she will be spending July 1 at Buffalo Day, while Premier Scott Moe said earlier this week he will be celebrating Canada Day while reflecting on the nation’s history.