Following a year in the house and away from most social settings, Sylvan Lake did not jump right into a big party in honour of Canada Day.
Normally, Canada Day in Sylvan Lake is a big event full of lots to do for the entire family. This year, the day was a quiet affair with families taking the time together in the sun.
Two events were held in honour of Canada Day this year; the flag raising, in partnership with the Sylvan Lake Legion, and the fireworks spectacular.
At the flag raising in the afternoon of July 1, Mayor Sean McIntyre said it was important to mark the day differently than in years passed.
“This Canada Day is different than others, certainly different from any other that I have observed before. It is changed by the discoveries that have been recently made of the remains at residential school sites in B.C., Saskatchewan and soon, further across our nation,” McIntyre said.
“On one hand we have fresh grief and mourning, and on the other hand we have got old wounds that are being reopened by these discoveries.”
McIntyre said the recent discoveries that are making waves across the country and the world, changed how Canada Day is celebrated in Sylvan Lake.
In Sylvan Lake, residents were encouraged to “pause and be mindful” of the dark spots in Canada’s history.
“This Canada Day we observe things differently, we join with our nation in mourning for those who were discovered at the residential schools, and we respect, honour and listen to those people who have been impacted, who are speaking their truth to us.”
The flag raising is traditionally a part of Sylvan Lake’s Canada Day traditions. The Legion and members of the Colour Guard take part in raising the flag to full mast in honour of the nation.
This year, the flag was brought up to full mast to honour the nation, but was then brought down to half mast to honour and respect the lives lost at residential schools across the country.
McIntyre said he reached out to local Indigenous people in Sylvan Lake and across Central Alberta, to get their input on how to celebrate Canada Day.
“A few of the people I spoke to, mentioned to me that after [sic] being present in residential schools, they went almost directly into the armed forces afterwards, and served alongside all the other countrymen from Canada,” McIntyre said.
“It is important to acknowledge those dark times, and those harms that were done… While we are respecting and mourning and honouring we also have to acknowledge that we can’t go back.
“We can only do what we can do today. We can only work together on peace, forgiveness and respect, and how to build a better Canada today and tomorrow.”