The Forks scraps traditional Canada Day celebrations

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The Forks has decided to ditch traditional Canada Day celebrations after holding them for decades.

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The Forks has decided to ditch traditional Canada Day celebrations after holding them for decades.

Instead, it will hold an event called “It’s a New Day at The Forks.”

Sara Stasiuk, CEO of The Forks North Portage Partnership, said the switch was made after consultations with community members, specifically Indigenous people, newcomers, and youth.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES There will be no live bands on the mainstage at The Forks on Canada Day this year.

It was decided to hold a day that showcases “a culturally rich opportunity for gathering with the intent to acknowledge what we heard in those engagements while bringing people together to learn from each other and celebrate our connectedness,” Stasiuk said.

The organization realized after last Canada Day — when angry groups vandalized and toppled the statues of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria at the legislature during a rally to honour Indigenous children who are suspected to be buried in unmarked graves at residential schools — that it had to take a look at the annual Canada Day celebration at its site, she said.

“We acknowledge the anger and hurt Indigenous communities are feeling, and we know we have a role to play in the healing process.”

The new celebration will focus on “sharing space, telling stories, and building understanding,” Stasiuk said.

“It doesn’t mean we won’t see some of the same activities again… it isn’t to say we’re never doing it again, but we’ve heard we need to hold it with all of our communities in mind.”

The new event will feature storytelling tents, powwow dancers, drummers, soccer and basketball tournaments, and live music in smaller tents. Live music on the mainstage has been scrapped and there are no fireworks.

There will be opportunities for people to provide comments and feedback — both positive and negative — before the July 1, 2023 event, Stasiuk said.

Canada Day on July 1 was called Dominion Day before 1982 and is a national holiday. Across the country, it has been traditionally celebrated with parties, displays of the country’s flag and fireworks.

The scrapping of traditional Canada Day celebrations at The Forks comes just days after Osborne Village announced it was ending its decades-old July 1 celebrations. Area businesses said they were no longer benefiting from the festival because people spent their money at food trucks and craft tables instead of restaurants and shops.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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