Over the past week I have received emails asking the Town to cancel Canada Day. I have struggled with exactly what to say but simply put, Canada Day, in Wolfville, will be a time for reflection.
This is a time for opening our hearts and minds to information that is difficult to accept - but accept we must.
Like many, I am still learning about the true nature of residential schools.As the daughter of an Irish Catholic father whose life was awash in poverty before he came to Canada, I grew up feeling fortunate to have been born in this Country, at this time. I learned about the history of Canada as “two solitudes” – the English and the French, with little knowledge of First Nations other than the fleeting glimpses in my history books of interactions with explorers and fur traders.
Several years ago, at a regional Rotary event I took part in a Blanket Exercise, and for the first time, I began to grasp the dark history of my Country.
As Canadians, we are a people who want to be better.With blinders removed, we can now stare down our past, right the wrongs, and forge a different future founded on a clear-eyed knowledge of the past and have hope for our future.
In Wolfville, Canada Day 2021 will be different.
It will be quieter than previous years.In part, due to the ongoing pandemic, in part out of awareness and respect.
This should be a day to reflect and recommit to a vision of a Country, for all people and cultures – a true mosaic.
This is also a time to be hopeful and to reflect on the positive things we have done as a Country and a community, confirmation that we can do better than our past might suggest.Wolfville – residents of the Town, members of area churches, members of service clubs, local businesses - gave of themselves and their resources to support the resettlement of several dozen Syrian Refugees.
Our Town is an active member of the Kings Diversity Committee, seeking ways to better understand all people in our community and ensuring that our policies and approaches do not exclude people of colour or expression.Wolfville undertook the province’s first Accessibility Study and now uses the accessibility lens in all infrastructure, program, and service initiatives.
We gleefully celebrate the queer community.
We have a council with a female mayor, five female councillors and a councillor who is openly and unabashedly gay – who received the most votes last October.
I do not believe any of these things would have happened in the year I was born. In my lifetime, we have become a more caring, more responsive, more inclusive Country.
Of all the memes and posts that have found expression on social media this week, the one that most touched me was a comment from Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation.
“All we ask of all of you listening is that you stand by us as we heal and we get stronger and that we all must put down our ignorance and accidental racism of not addressing the truth that this country has with Indigenous people,” Chief Delorme said. “We are not asking for pity, but we are asking for understanding. We need time to heal, and this country must stand by us.”
This Canada Day is a time for reflection, opening our hearts and minds to information that is difficult to accept, but accept we must. We offer support and new understanding.This new understanding is how we commit to being the best Country and people that we can be, and how we commit to becoming the mosaic to which we aspire.
Mayor Wendy Donovan