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The service group that was organizing the Canada Day parade in the capital of the Northwest Territories has cancelled the event due to recent discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves that are believed to contain Indigenous children’s remains.

Rotary Club of Yellowknife President Wayne Guy says in a statement issued Saturday that when the club began planning this year’s parade months ago, the biggest concern was COVID-19.

But he says the discovery of unmarked graves in recent weeks at the sites of former residential schools in B.C. and Saskatchewan “has changed the meaning of July 1 this year for many.”

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The statement says it was determined a parade this year would not meet Rotary’s four-way ethical guide.

The statement follows another one issued jointly Friday by the City of Yellowknife and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation that there will be a ceremony July 1 in the city’s Somba K’e Civic Plaza to “honour Indigenous Peoples and acknowledge the past.”

Mayor Rebecca Alty says in the statement that she will be wearing orange on Canada Day to honour the thousands of children sent to residential schools, and she encourages others to do the same.

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