In the story called ‘Burns Lake to combine two parades’ published in the Lakes District News’ March 29 issue, it was announced that this year Burns Lake will combine two of its main parades – Canada Day and Aboriginal Day – on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
After Lakes District News posted this story on Facebook, several residents left comments expressing their disapproval.
“I must say, I do not agree with this,” said Burns Lake resident Tina Pedersen Giesbrecht. “Anyone who works will not be able to partake [in the parade]; keep Canada Day festivities, including the parade, on Canada Day.”
“Is this a money saving venture? If so, I’m sure the fat could be trimmed elsewhere,” said Burns Lake resident Reece Leeson. “Is it a work saving venture? I’m sure volunteers can be found. Outside of those two things I see no logical reason to start changing around a holiday; Canada Day is Canada Day and National Aboriginal Day is National Aboriginal Day.”
Burns Lake resident Kris Shively wrote a letter to council and Lakes District News last week saying that combining the two parades will be a disservice to both celebrations.
“June 21 is Aboriginal Day in Canada, a day when Canadians honour our First Nations brothers and sisters for their contribution to our great society,” says the letter. “Hosting Canada Day celebrations on Aboriginal Day undermines the importance of our First Nation heritage, and gives little credence to sincerity of these celebrations.”
Lake Babine Nation Chief Wilf Adam said he also doesn’t think the two parades should be combined since they celebrate two different heritages.
“In my mind there is unfinished business of Canada reconciling with the First Nations in B.C.,” said Chief Adam. “The reason why Aboriginal Day was created was to showcase and educate the broader society in Canada what our customs and beliefs are.”
Chantal Tom, general manager of the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation (BLNDC), said she can’t speak on behalf of all the First Nations in Burns Lake and the surrounding communities. However, she says the First Nations volunteers that sit on the Aboriginal Day committee felt “very comfortable and excited” about combining the parades.
“We are hoping it will be a positive step towards strengthening community unity,” said Tom.
“We were told that last year’s [Canada Day] parade was cancelled due to the lack of volunteers,” she continued. “At that time, we suggested combining both [parades] as the Aboriginal Day parade has been very successful and is growing annually.”
“We have a great group of volunteers that assist with the organization of Aboriginal Day festivities,” she added.
Randi Amendt, acting manager of the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, explained that when Canada Day falls on a weekend, it usually results in low attendance because residents tend to leave town.
“We have a difficult time finding volunteers and sponsors,” explained Amendt. “Aboriginal Day and Canada Day are 10 days apart, and it is a lot to ask of the business community to support both parades when they are so close together.”
Amendt admitted that since the parade will be held on a Wednesday, it will be difficult for some working residents to attend.
“Perhaps some of the businesses will consider closing for one hour so their employees may attend,” she said. “This may be an easier option if the parade is allowed to go down Hwy. 16.”
Although the chamber and BLNDC hope the parade will be held on Hwy. 16 this year – as opposed to being held on Government Street – the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure still hasn’t approved their request.
A Canada Day celebration will still be held on July 1 at Spirit Square, without a parade. The celebration will include a pancake breakfast, entertainment, children’s pioneer games and events in the Lakeside Multiplex.
The chamber is currently looking for volunteers for the Canada Day celebration. If interested, contact the chamber at 250-692-3773.