Canada's Victoria cancels national day celebration after discovery of unmarked burial site

FILE PHOTO: People visit a makeshift memorial on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc band council encouraged mourners to take part in a national day of prayer to honour the remains of 215 children that were found at the site in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada June 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier/File Photo

VANCOUVER (Reuters) -The provincial capital of Canada’s British Columbia has decided to cancel a virtual celebration of the national Canada Day holiday on July 1 after the discovery of unmarked graves of children at a now-defunct indigenous boarding school.

The city council of Victoria voted on Thursday instead to air programming led by the local indigenous nation at a later date. Local indigenous leaders who usually participate in Canada Day ceremonies declined after remains of 215 children were found at the former school in Kamloops, northern British Columbia.

“They’re grief-struck and reeling, as are many indigenous people across the country,” Lisa Helps, mayor of Victoria, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday.

Victoria will “produce a broadcast to air later this summer guided by the Lekwungen people and featuring local artists, that explores what it means to be Canadian, in light of recent events,” she said.

The Songhees Nation, of which the Lekwungen people are members, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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