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County supports scaled-back Canada Day

The municipality is considering options for Canada Day following a community group’s decision not to proceed with events this year.

The Canada Day Committee, a volunteer group that has been supported by the Picton and Wellington recreation committees and the Business Improvement Associations (BIAs), announced last week it will not host events out of respect to the ongoing truth and reconciliation process with Indigenous peoples.

Mayor Steve Ferguson stated he respects the decision of the committee and thanks the volunteers for the work in the past organizing activities on July 1.

The municipality is looking to reinvest its financial contributions in Canada Day events that are already being organized by others in the community and planned for that day.

“Canada Day is about much more than marking the anniversary of Confederation. It’s a celebration of the ideals we strive to uphold as Canadians, those of freedom, dignity, and respect for all,” Ferguson said. “Like all nations, Canada grapples with a tragic past and troubling present, as we were reminded of in recent weeks with the discovery of remains of Indigenous children at a residential school in Kamloops and the attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario.

“Canada Day, though, should be a day when we recognize our imperfections and actively renew our commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive community for all.”

The Canada Day Committee had not planned in-person community activities this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The committee intended to erect art installations in Picton and Wellington using a Celebrate Canada grant funding that the municipality received from the government of Canada.

The committee volunteers have indicated the proposed art installations will not move ahead this year; however, the municipality has confirmed it will cover the artist’s costs using existing community grant funds.

The municipality is looking at ways to reinvest the federal Canada Day grant funding it received this year into local artists and programming that honours the diverse history of Canada. Options are limited given the short notice of the Canada Day Committee and the requirement that the funding be used for activities happening on July 1; however, the municipality expects to make an announcement in the coming days.

Also on July 1, the municipality will launch an online public consultation on the future of Canada Day celebrations in Prince Edward County.

With larger in-person gatherings expected to return by next year, the municipality wants to start gathering ideas about what Canada Day could look like in 2022. Do you want to see a tribute to local heroes? Greater focus on Indigenous history? A celebration of local arts and culture? Submit comments by July 31 to the County’s Have Your Say website page.

For more information, contact the County of Prince Edward at 613.476.2148 extension 1023, 613.962.9108 extension 1023, or

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  1. angela says:

    Councillor St. Jean was not volunteer bashing. Surely volunteers are expected to seek council’s advice when a major decision, especially one involving funding, is required. This group chose to ignore that step and in doing so made a decision that was never theirs to make. It is obvious from the large number of comments in social media that many disagree with the committee’s action. As for the vetting of volunteers even the most careful screening does not provide a green light for them to make decisions that rightfully belong to council and the community. Councillor St. Jean is to be congratulated for speaking out, not made out to be the wrongdoer.

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    The root of the problem lies with council and why they feel the need to have these “citizen committees.” As we know these are volunteer positions – whether it is to organize a Canada Day celebration or to run your ward’s recreation committee, to your local heritage advisory group – all depend on volunteers and the volunteers depend on council’s support. From my experience, volunteers are vetted very closely – from police checks to application forms to volunteer – in other words council controls who is appointed to these committees.

    In my opinion, council often turns over an issue/responsibility to a volunteer group in order to deflect responsibility away from them – such as they did with the “Citizen’s Assembly” that was to study how to reduce the size of council – after spending $25k for that effort, their recommendations were thrown out the window by council.

    In this case of the Canada Day Committee – their letter clearly stated their position and why the felt the need to withdraw their participation for this year. Personally, I believe Councillor St-Jean’s comment was political scapegoating and bashing volunteers.

  3. Mark says:

    Good points Henri. We know little however because it has not been a transcparent process. We know what the Committee chose to do at the 11th hour. We know the Mayor chose to thank them and respect their decision. What we do not know is how our “elected” representavives felt other than Councilor St.Jean.

  4. Henri Garand says:

    The decision making of two recent County committees, on Canada Day celebrations and the Macdonald statue task force, raises questions about volunteers’ responsibilities and understanding of their roles. Do volunteers represent the community as a whole or only their own points of view? When their beliefs (come to) differ from the committee’s purpose and function, should they resign from the committee without participating in any decisions? Should council provide more direction and oversight of committee operations?

    In future at least, council has to make clear the expectations for committee service, especially the need for meeting goals and making decisions democratically.

  5. angela says:

    As a volunteer committee this group had every right to withdraw but no right at all to speak for council and the county. What other volunteer group or advisory committee has ever leapfrogged over council to dictate policy? The actions of this group placed council in an awkward position. To disagree with their stand would have meant showing lack of respect for its volunteers (which these volunteers blithely showed for council). The question remains – why did they make a formal announcement before discussing it with council? They were not speaking for the county, only for themselves and hard work in past years or not they over-stepped.

  6. Teena says:

    Woody. Thank you. Your letter should be published across Canada! It is the best description I have encountered yet of what we should be doing as a country and as humans.

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    This Committee did not “arbitrarily cancel Canada Day.” They withdrew their participation in organizing events and did not arrive at their decision easily. This group of people volunteered their time and work and were appointed by council to do it. And from the news reports that I have heard and read, Council supported the groups decision. If Councillor St-Jean feels so opposed to his council’s position – then I will wait to see him introduce a motion at council to reverse it.

  8. Chuck says:

    The Mayor thanked the committee! Really.

  9. Emily says:

    Makes one wonder why our Council would not be forthcoming to how everyone felt on this cancel issue. All we got from our Municipality is the Mayor thanking this committee and respecting their decision. That is not transcparency.

  10. angela says:

    Thank you, Phil St. Jean. We need more councillors like you.

  11. Woody says:

    I am a retired Canadian soldier. I have lived and worked in other countries, I tried to always represent the best of Canada. Yes we have our flawed past, so does every other country. I am respectful of everyone that calls Canada their home. Reality is even with our flaws we are still the best country to live in. I would never want to live anywhere else, I am proud to be a Canadian.
    Let’s learn from our past, celebrate our present, and try to do better in the future.
    I will celebrate Canada day, I will mourn the NL regiment that was almost completely wiped out on this day, and I will mourn the death of those families that were destroyed by our past policies and beliefs.
    I have seen the worst of this world. I celebrate today’s Canada and tomorrow’s Canada because I can’t change the past. I can only hope for a better future.

  12. Mark says:

    Well said and it took courage. It is refreshing to see a Councilor come out and speak to the public regarding an issue that so many are concerned about.

  13. Teena says:

    Very well said, Phil St-Jean. Thank you.

  14. Phil St-Jean says:

    Full disclosure if you were not aware, I am a Prince Edward County councillor representing Picton Ward.
    I rarely make comments on social media or on County Live due to the fact anything I say has been and will be misinterpreted or I will get viciously attacked as happens regularly on “anti social media”.
    However I feel this discussion merits me speaking up and stating my opinion.

    I did not and do not support the decision of the County Canada Day committee to arbitrarily cancel Canada Day. I feel it was wrong of them to use the tragic discovery of unmarked graves in Kamloops (and now other former residential school sites) to serve there own personal interests. I do respect their right to express their opinions as the committee members should of others who disagree with them.

    The following statement may not sit well with some but I feel it needs to be said.
    It should be lost on no one the significance of the timing of their press release. It occurred mere hours before this community was to be embroiled in yet another JAM public meeting and council meeting.
    One of the signatories (Jennifer Lynn Litke) who is a very vocal anti JAM person, she presented her comments at the council meeting June 7th, posted the letter on behalf of the CCD committee to her Facebook community page intentionally to support her personal cause without care or regard to the impact it would have and the divisiveness it would create in our community.
    Or did she ?
    Maybe that was the intent behind announcing in bold letters Canada Day is cancelled.
    You decide.

    There are many who share hers and the committees opinion. I believe they missed a huge opportunity to raise awareness of our shared past, to bring us together to be and do better. Further the responsible thing would have been for the members to reach out to the municipality, explain they were having a moral dilemma and simply resign. That is what honourable people do. The county would have appealed to the broader community for new volunteers. The county would have honoured the agreements with the local artists and the grantors. The municipality applied for and received the funds from Heritage Canada to support its Canada Day activities. The money was not theirs to waste. It was entrusted to them to use wisely to the benefit of all county residents.

    I encourage everyone to be respectful of the several tragic discoveries of the past couple weeks and ask yourselves what can I do to honour those lost souls and what can I do to ensure the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action are acted upon in meaningful ways.

    I for one will be celebrating Canada Day in my own way. I am a Canadian of French, English and Ojibway descent who is feeling shame for the sins of our past and anger towards those of great authority and power who committed these atrocities. I openly admit we have much to improve upon yet I am proud of our accomplishments as a nation, a people and as a society which is the envy of many around the world.

  15. Steve Staniek says:

    Canada Day has always been a perfidious and macabre celebration of British Christian Supremacy over indigenous Canada, and ethical Canadians have demanded a stop to that dark racial practice. A new Canada is emerging from the old Dominion of Canada, and it will be based on equalitarian and humanitarian values, instead of stone age feudal relationships, ie: colonial relationships, and values that harmed 1/4 of the world for power and profit.

  16. LB says:

    Thank you Sharon Harrison. We look forward to celebrating Canada Day in Wellington!

    The Canada Day Committee members are volunteers and likely are the type of people who give relentlessly to their community. I’m sure their collective decision was difficult. I personally disagree with it.

    You can be sure the vast number of Canadian hearts are one with Indigenous peoples on Canada Day. Governments and churches, not so much.

  17. Teena says:

    The heading is misleading. “The County” doesn’t support a “scaled-back Canada Day”. However, a very small group on a “Committee” apparently gets to speak for everyone in PEC, without our knowledge or consent. How very precious of them. I’m getting very tired of this “cancel culture”. A very few are running roughshod over the many.

  18. Chuck says:

    It begs the question of how and whom from the Municipality chose to support the shutdown by the committee.

  19. Argyle says:

    Not only is the “Woke” alive and well in PEC, they apparently have strong support at Shire Hall……a municipal election cannot come soon enough….

  20. Sharon Harrison says:

    As a board member with the Wellington Recreation Committee, and a key organizer and contributor to Wellington’s Canada Day festivities, a long-standing significant annual Prince Edward County event (one of several such events the WRC organize), the WRC was never consulted by the County Canada Day Committee (a group organizing Picton’s Canada Day event). The WRC was also not consulted by the municipality or council in their decision to issue this notice. The Canada Day Committee does not speak for the Wellington Recreation Committee which has always operated independently of this relatively new group.

  21. Ayar says:

    Canada Day is celebrating the birthday of Canada in 1867 when 4 provinces came together and created the beginnings of Canada as it is today. There are over 1,000 celebrations – many of them in indigenous communities – that will take place on July 1st. This website: shows those receiving Canada Day grants.

    The Canada Day Committee, without bothering to get public input, chose to dishonour our country by recommending cancellation of Canada Day celebrations – pusillanimously supported by Council. Shame on you all.

  22. Myrna Wood says:

    Yesterday Biden said “Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments. We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger.”

  23. Chris Keen says:

    Here’s an idea. Everyone who wants to celebrate Canada Day could drive to Belleville.

  24. angela says:

    Yay, Dennis! I’m with you. We need to fly those flags and show pride in our country.

  25. Gary says:

    It’s ridiculous decisions like this that strike the heart of the electorate. This will result in a huge turnover of Council as it should. You can only slap the taxpayer so many times. Belleville makes us look especially ignorant to the community.

  26. Susan says:

    The Committee should have been overuled and removed. It is beyond me how they had the authority at the eleventh hour to cancel our Countrys celebration. Was all of Council involved in thanking them?

  27. Dennis Fox says:

    Ignore this group – Canada Day is our day to celebrate and we don’t need a committee to show or tell us how to do it – just do it! Get your own fireworks and fly the flag and sing Oh Canada.

    I do support this group’s right and their reasons for not wanting to organize this celebration – but this should not stop us from celebrating our country. Canada is a great country, with faults – but at least we are dealing seriously with them and in the end we will carry on and be successful.

  28. Fred says:

    Belleville is full steam ahead. They felt it was an error to tie Indigenous matters from Kamloops with Canada Day, and would be portrayed as tokenism. I am disappointrd in the Countys response to a committee that unilatteraly shut things down.

  29. angela says:

    How does a small group of volunteers get to decide what our county should do for Canada Day? Their decision was announced it would seem without any prior consultation with council. That all came later. What about what the community as a whole wants? Now it seems council in typical fashion is about to launch another of those phony public consultations which are usually totally ignored. Who can be bothered to participate in this fruitless exercise yet again? It is simply council’s way of letting people think their input is valuable. Canada Day 2022 will be a sanitized version of the event if it proceeds in any recognizable fashion at all. Belleville is moving forward with Canada Day events but then its council is not waffling and dithering as ours is. Being Canadian was once a reason for great pride. Now we are being asked to be ashamed and embarrassed. If we are not careful we are likely to shame ourselves right out of existence.

  30. Michelle says:

    The Cancel Culture is alive and well in this community. They are even thanked and respected!

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