The Forks plans reimagined July 1 event following reflection, consultation

The Forks is taking a different approach to the celebrations come July 1 – a move organizers hope will allow for a welcoming space for all communities.

Instead of Canada Day celebrations, The Forks is planning a reimagined ‘New Day at The Forks’ event on July 1.

Clare MacKay, vice president of strategic initiatives and executive director of The Forks Foundation, said the decision to change the Canada Day celebrations was made following the first discoveries of unmarked graves at residential school sites across the country.

“It did give us a chance to reflect and to have some time to do some consultation to sort of look at what our Canada Day had looked like in the past and what it could look like in the future,” MacKay said.

She said for the past year, The Forks has been holding roundtable discussions with Indigenous peoples, newcomers and youth about the future of Canada Day celebrations. Those discussions have shaped what has become ‘A New Day at The Forks’ event.

While the day will look different from past years – there will be no fireworks – MacKay said there will be a wide range of programming that is representative and inclusive.

There will be family-friendly activities, soccer and basketball tournaments, pow wow dancers, drummers, craft stations, theatre performances and live music by local artists, along with dedicated Indigenous-led spaces for ceremony and healing at Oodena and The Gathering Space (wiigiwam) at Niizhoziibean.

“We believe what we’re doing is providing a very diverse, interesting – and fun even – day where people will be able to find something that they can either learn for the first time or a place where they can sit and gather and gain knowledge,” MacKay said.

In a release, Sara Stasiuk, CEO of The Forks North Portage Partnership, said she acknowledges the hurt that is being felt in Indigenous communities.

“We know we have a role to play in the healing process. We’re beginning by listening to what we heard, and by offering a day that focuses on sharing space, telling stories, and building understanding,” Stasiuk said. “This is only a beginning, and something we will continue to build on with community support.”

More details about the events planned at The Forks on July 1 can be found online.

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