2022 Canada Day in Wilmot to celebrate Indigenous people

Indigenous Elder Nina De Shane is looking forward to this year’s Canada in Wilmot celebration.

Angie Hallman is a first-generation Canadian whose family came to Canada from Italy and settled in New Hamburg.

Although raised to be a proud Canadian, Hallman struggled to identify as one while learning the truth about Canada.

“Through my own journey of being proud because of knowing what this opportunity created for my family, I was on an independent journey of learning about the original people of this land and what their reality was,” she said.

The Wilmot Township councilor attended a powwow where she learned that “it’s possible for you to be a proud Canadian and do the work to bring back what should have always been the original treaties,” she shared.

The first step to this journey was starting a territorial acknowledgment in 2019. “While that is very minor, our goal was to always move forward in being a more inclusive event,” Hallman said.

Hallman, who took over running Canada Day celebrations in 2017 said this year, the 40th anniversary of Canada Day in Wilmot will be focused on reconciliation.

MOURNING THE DEATHS OF CHILDREN

In May 2021, the remains of 215 children were found at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC

Hallman said last year, the Indigenous people of Wilmot asked them to stand with them and not have the celebration while they grieved.

But in the past year, Canada Day in Wilmot has worked closely with the Indigenous community to find out what the path forward looks like, and what it should have always been.

Indigenous Elder Nina De Shane who participated in the planning, said she hopes it goes well. She said it’s important that the Indigenous community issues are brought to the fore.

”Every time that communities come together and speak, the chance for understanding is increased. And that’s really important,” she said.

The theme for unity is expressed in this year’s logo. “As a settler, I see it as one of my jobs to make sure that I contribute to the healing and showing what forward can look like and what it should have always been,” Hallman said.

The logo comprises the Canadian maple leaf and the eagle feather, which symbolizes respect, honour, strength, courage and wisdom to Indigenous people. “We wanted a message that showed forward together,” Hallman said.

She also said there’s entertainment throughout the day for kids and adults, vendor markets, food and fireworks. Although there’s no need to register beforehand, there’s a $5 fee at the door which helps offset the $30,000 they spent in planning the event.

Hallman is thankful for the local businesses which sponsored the event, one of which is NW Roofing of New Hamburg Inc.

Kristi Wagner, co-owner of NW Roofing, said her business is proud to sponsor Canada Day in Wilmot this year knowing that it’s a partnership with Indigenous communities on how to move forward together.

“I feel very strongly about this being part of our path to reconciliation, to incorporate their voices for how we could be looking at Canada Day,” Wagner said.

She said she understood why it wasn’t celebrated last year. “There was nothing to celebrate. It felt like a funeral for the entire country. I was overwhelmed with emotion.”

Wagner hopes the community can be open-minded about this year’s celebration. “Nothing’s cancelled. We are broadening our understanding,” she said.

Other activities that bring the community to the path of reconciliation include a women’s healing circle at the Mannheim Mennonite Church and Crowe Shield Lodge.

“Nothing’s going to change if we don’t talk to each other,” De Shane said.

For more information about Canada Day in Wilmot, visit the website https://www.canadadayinwilmot.com/about


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: The 40th Canada Day in Wilmot festivities is focused on reconciliation and will be celebrated together with Indigenous people. New Hamburg Independent wanted to find out more about this.

.

Leave a Comment