SUNDRE — Although there remained a level of uncertainty regarding pandemic restrictions in the weeks leading up to Canada Day, the local museum nevertheless plans to proceed with a traditional ceremony.
“Canada Day is happening at the Sundre museum,” said Jaime Marr, executive director.
“We will be going forward with our annual flag raising event,” Marr recently told The Albertan.
With Stage 3 of the provincial government’s economic relaunch strategy expected to start July 1 when all restrictions are to be lifted, there will not be a mask mandate in place.
“Because it’s outdoors, I think it’s going to be OK,” said Marr.
Since arrangements for a larger community ceremony must be planned well in advance, lining everything up was challenging back when organizers didn’t know if or how the event could be delivered, she said.
“We made it kind of flexible, but we haven’t advertised anything,” she said.
That being said, she added people who attend can expect the annual flag raising and singing of the anthem at the pioneer village to start at about 11 a.m.
Next door at the Sundre & District Museum's main building, hourly tours of the World of Wildlife exhibit will be available by appointment following the official ceremony, she said, adding anyone who wants to reserve a time can do so by calling the museum at 403-638-3233, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting their Facebook page.
Additionally, she said a donation bin will be placed outside of the wildlife exhibit’s doors.
“Canada Day is admission-free, so of course we encourage everyone to come. But donations are welcome.”
Following the official ceremony and addresses from dignitaries, town council will starting at noon be serving up free hot dogs, pop and cake, said Barb Rock, the municipality's community services coordinator.
While entertainment had yet to be confirmed when she spoke with The Albertan on Friday, Rock said a firework display is planned to start at 11 p.m. on the north end of the Sundre Rodeo Grounds.
This year, the usually more jubilant tone for Canada Day celebrations has been tempered by recent revelations that ground-penetrating radar unveiled unmarked, mass graves of Indigenous youth who were unceremonially buried on the grounds of former residential schools in B.C. and Saskatchewan, with more expected to be found.
“Truth and Reconciliation is something that’s been known for a while,” said Marr. “It’s a document that’s been made available to a number of people in the museum industry."
The local museum, she added, wants to play its part in shining a brighter light on those dark chapters of Canadian history by following the recommendations outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 report “by recognizing and acknowledging some of the things that have happened in our past.”
That effort had begun prior to the recent news that sent shockwaves through the country’s collective conscience.
“The graves of course made it so much more important,” she said, adding efforts will further be ramped up to provide educational opportunities for people interested in learning more not only about Indigenous culture, but also their experiences in the residential school system, which operated until 1996.
“People will notice a bit more acknowledgement happening here, as we should,” she said, adding that community education is important to the Sundre & District Historical Society.
“We were really happy to host the Stoney Nakoda to come in, and it’s something that we’re going to try to have established,” she said, referring to an event held on June 21 in conjunction with National Indigenous Peoples Day, when a group from that nation set up a Cree-style tipi at the museum’s grounds, located on Treaty 6 and 7 lands.
“The tipi will become a part of our regular standard programming,” she said.
Marr encourages the public to come out to the museum and purchase a membership to gain full, year-round access.
She also expressed gratitude not only for the community’s ongoing support, but especially people’s grace, patience and understanding as the museum navigated through the pandemic’s uncharted waters.
“We cannot wait to see everyone’s smiling faces — we miss humans!” she said.