For the first time in two years, Canada Day celebrations will return to Mission’s Fraser River Heritage Park. / Bob Friesen File Photo

For the first time in two years, Canada Day celebrations will return to Mission’s Fraser River Heritage Park. / Bob Friesen File Photo

Mission’s Canada Day celebrations return to Heritage Park

City says it has the support of Leq’á:mel, Mathexwi, and Semá:th First Nations to hold celebration

Canada Day celebrations will return to Fraser River Heritage Park this year for an in-person event after two years of virtual programming.

According to a news release issued by the City of Mission, the event will offer many of the favourite Canada Day activities residents have enjoyed in the past, however the “focus for this year’s event will be on reconnecting community through the gathering of friends and family and providing space for reflection and learning.”

Fraser River Heritage Park is the site of the former St. Mary’s Residential School that operated from 1867 to 1961. Last year unmarked graves were confirmed first in Kamloops and since at former residential schools throughout the country.

In Mission, Stó:lo Research and Resource Management Centre is conducting research and the city has been supporting this work any way it can.

“The decision to resume holding Canada Day at Fraser River Heritage Park did not come lightly. As soon as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and large in-person gatherings were permitted once again, conversations with local First Nations about the annual Canada Day event began,” the release stated.

Through ongoing discussions with the Leq’á:mel, Mathexwi, and Semá:th First Nations, the City of Mission is grateful for their support to hold this event this year and to be joined by Leq’á:mel First Nation on July 1 for a traditional welcome, as they have in previous years.

“The Leq’á:mel, Mathexwi, and Sema:th Society (LMS) look forward to celebrating Canada Day with the City of Mission on our shared territory at Fraser River Heritage Park,” said Darrel McKamey, LMS Society Director and Leq’á:mel First Nation Councillor.

“The LMS Society sees Canada emerging from its dark past striving to improve and do better at building meaningful and healthy relations with Indigenous Canadians. Although, there is generations of work ahead to truly paddle together, LMS is pleased to celebrate the new beginnings of Canada with the citizens of Mission and our good friends Mayor Horn and the rest of the Mission City Council. We look forward to seeing you on July 1st, 2022!”

Mayor Paul Horn said he is happy that everyone is able to gather again at Fraser River Heritage Park to celebrate Canada Day.

“These past three years have reminded us all of the importance of inclusion and relationships, so we have worked closely with the Leq’á:mel, Mathexwi, and Semá:th First Nations to ensure that this year’s event is conducted in a respectful way and one that gives Indigenous and diverse voices a place. We invite everyone in Mission to join us. After all, the best way to honour Canada is by considering how we can make it better for all.”

Canada Day celebrations take place July 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the event is free.