The City of Welland is “refocusing” its plans for Canada Day activities.
Previously scheduled at market square Thursday was a pancake breakfast, and Canada Day-themed costume contests.
The schedule has been adjusted to become a ‘Holiday Market and Pancake Breakfast’ and the costume contest will be rebranded to include themes of any kinds, said the city’s recreation and culture manager Richard Dalton, adding that “celebration” has been taken out of the event’s title.
Recently, the City of St. Catharines cancelled its Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous communities mourning the discovery of more than 750 unmarked graves were found at the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan last week.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates about 4,000 children died in residential schools over many decades.
Dalton said the event has been changed to “match the tone that’s around the region and around the country” regarding Canada Day events.
The city wants to be “understanding and mindful” of the grief Indigenous people and Canada as a whole are going through after the recent discovery in Saskatchewan, which came after more than 215 graves were also found at a residential school site in Kamloops, B.C.
“Offering activities that are appropriate” became the focus when city staff met Wednesday morning to review and adapt the event’s plans.
With restrictions for outdoor gatherings being eased and now allowing 25 people outside, the city felt it was necessary to still offer a holiday event, leaving out a celebration of Canada.
“I don’t think we’ve ever approached Canada Day with these concerns in the past,” said Dalton.
The event runs from 8 a.m. to noon and will also include some vendors who are normally set up at the Saturday farmers market, but it won’t be “exactly the same,” said Dalton.
The canteen at market square will be open for pancakes to be served, but guests will be able to go home with their food or sit at on-site picnic tables outside.
The costume contest will include “best-dressed” pets, bikes, cars, and Wellanders.
Drive-thru parades in Niagara Falls, Pelham, and Lincoln are planned for July 1.
Municipalities such as Fort Erie, Port Colborne, and Wainfleet are not hosting events.