Burns Lake will have two of its main parades – National Aboriginal Day and Canada Day – combined into one this year on Wednesday June 21, 2017.
A Canada Day celebration will still be held on July 1 at Spirit Square, without a parade.
“It’s hard getting two parades when they are only 10 days apart,” explained Chantal Tom, general manager of the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation (BLNDC).
With this year being Canada’s 150th birthday, Tom hopes the parade will be bigger than previous years and gather more community support.
“Our Aboriginal Day parade has been growing and growing every year that we have it, so this year we’re hoping to involve all the businesses in town and make it more of a community event as opposed to an Aboriginal Day event,” she said. “We thought it would help promote local businesses, especially along the main drag, and bring more people out.”
Tom also hopes the parade will be held along Hwy. 16 – between the College of New Caledonia and the Hardware Store – like it used to be in the past. Over the past few years, the parade has been held on Government Street so that traffic along the highway corridor wouldn’t be blocked.
The BLNDC recently requested a letter of support from Burns Lake council to hold the parade on Hwy. 16. Although council has approved the request, some councillors are not confident that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will ultimately allow the parade to be held on Hwy. 16.
“I don’t see how the Ministry of Transportation is possibly going to approve this; it could present all kinds of traffic issues,” said councillor Kelly Holliday. “I can’t even imagine trying to reroute traffic and transport trucks up and down our roads.”
“We can write a letter of support, but I’m personally not in support of having the parade in the middle of the week on Hwy. 16, when it’s business as usual,” added Holliday.
Councillor Susan Schienbein said the existing parade route along Government Street also presented some traffic issues.
“Last time we had a parade we had a problem anyway with the traffic,” she said. “I know a lot of people would love to see the parade being held on the highway like it used to; the fact that they are having two parades together is a fabulous idea.”
Tom told Lakes District News that she recognizes her request might not be approved by the ministry, but that she hopes the letter of support from council will help with her request.
An Aboriginal Day committee has already been formed and they are currently finalizing the event’s entertainment list, as several attractions will be held at Spirit Square after the parade. Tom said attractions might include performers from out of town, but that it was too soon to reveal what those attractions will be.
The committee is also looking for volunteers to help organize the celebration. If interested, contact the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation at 250-692-3188.