Mixed reception to Canada Day celebrations in the Ottawa Valley after unmarked graves found at residential schools
ARNPRIOR, ONT. -- On the eve of Canada Day, there are mixed reactions from Canadians on how the country’s birthday should be marked in light of the discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential school sites.
At RC Fireworks in Renfrew, owner Andrew Dick says his business is booming, with his products flying off the shelves.
"The last three days I have not stopped," says Dick. "The messages are coming in through phone, email, text, Facebook and have been from 6 o’clock in the morning until eight at night and I have not stopped at all."
Dick says he was nearly sold out at noon on Wednesday, with customers still coming in to spend hundreds of dollars on fireworks. Dick adds that many of his customers are coming from areas where their towns have chosen not to hold fireworks displays due to safety protocols.
Renfrew resident Brad Smith is still choosing to celebrate Canada Day this year, despite the social debate about whether to mark the holiday.
"Going to have a few close friends by, might be six, eight people," says Smith. “Barbecue, light off some fireworks, and celebrate."
"I think a lot of people are still coming to buy fireworks, and I don’t think they’re celebrating Canada Day because I’m not getting that vibe," adds Dick. "I’m getting more of vibe, we just want to celebrate."
The Town of Renfrew will be holding COVID-safe, family-friendly events on Canada Day such as a self-guided 5K run, a pet costume contest, and a decorating contest. Prizes will be handed out to the best social media posts chosen at the end of the day.
Deciding not to celebrate Canada Day for the first time is Arnprior resident Derek McCuaig, who took down his Canadian flag and replaced it with an "Every Child Matters" flag.
"My family, we believe that basically our Canadian flag should come down and that’s the flag we chose to fly today and it’s going to be flown for a while yet," says McCuaig.
The lifelong Arnprior resident says he plans to spend Canada Day reflecting on Canada’s history.
"Even today, after 182 unmarked graves were found, I think it’s important we pay respect to the Indigenous community and the children that lost their lives."