La Ronge, Air Ronge and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band have decided to cancel Canada Day celebrations in the area.

The decision was made to honour the memory of the 215 children whose remains were recently found at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. as well as the other children being discovered across the country at sites of other residential schools.

Instead, the communities are focusing their efforts on National Indigenous Peoples Day this coming Monday.

Village of Air Ronge mayor Julie Baschuk says the cancellation was necessary to show support to Indigenous peoples’ and acknowledge the trauma victims of the residential school system face.

“When we talk about truth and reconciliation, what more valid point is there right now than making some acknowledgements about the wrong-doings of our history and (about) how we work together moving forward in strengthening and supporting the healing process and the overall well-being of our community,” she said.

She said it was an easy decision for her and her council to make.

“I think with everything that is going on around our country, our province and right here at home, this was necessary in standing alongside our Indigenous community,” Baschuk said.

Baschuk said it’s too early to know if the region will ever see a Canada Day celebration again.

“I think it’s too soon to know the future of what that could look like,” she said. “I think right now, we are processing the recent discoveries (of bodies) and the traumas that people are feeling. I definitely see that those will be discussions to be had within the community — not only with elected officials, but with community members as well.”

The area’s National Indigenous Peoples’ Day event gets underway at 9 a.m. on the La Ronge urban reserve with a pipe ceremony.

There will be a parade and smudge walk starting at 11 a.m., commencing the afternoon of cultural activities such as moose-calling and storytelling.

There will also be a walk-in COVID-19 vaccine tent clinic at the event.

The festivities will finish off with fireworks in the evening.

(PHOTO: Town of La Ronge sign. File photo.)