The storied Canada Days in Port Clements may have been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, but Haida Gwaii residents found other methods to mark the passing of the Constitution Act.
A miniature parade of two cars with accordion players in tow set off from Bethel Assembly in Queen Charlotte around 3 p.m. on July 1, making stops at the Causeway, hospital, Martin Manor and Heritage Housing Society.
Nettie Harder and daughter-in-law Heather Harder — aka The Discordions — played their accordions along the route, as well as a rendition of “Oh Canada” at each stop.
Heather told the Observer that for a small parade, it was a great success.
“A lot of people were honking their horns,” she said.
The small Canada Day parade that set out from Bethel Assembly on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 is pictured stopped outside the Queen Charlotte home of Mavis Mark. Nettie Harder and daughter-in-law Heather Harder played their accordions for people all around the village, with Nettie (left) strapped into the back of a red vehicle so she did not fall out. (Wes Harder/Submitted photo)
Residents also flocked to Blacktail on Wednesday, which had its grand reopening after a months-long shutdown.
The new covered patio was packed with socially distanced tables around dinner time and chef-owner Edi Szasz told the Observer the first night back in business felt great, “almost normal again.”
Blacktail Haida Gwaii chef-owner Edi Szasz (left) is pictured with staff who helped reopen the restaurant on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. (Edi Szasz/Submitted photo)
Rainmakers fans also enjoyed an encore performance on Wednesday evening, following the band’s pop-up Hospital Day set on June 20 at Echo Bay Lodge.
The show started around 6:30 p.m., and again included several original songs and covers so that residents could listen from “from afar or from your car.”
At the beginning of the set, however, singer Julia Weder noted that not everyone was celebrating.
“We’re singing on what’s called Canada Day in some parts of Canada, but we like to call it occupation day because what was called Canada has been built from 150 years of colonization and theft of land from Indigenous peoples, and genocide of people and cultures,” Weder said.
“As settlers on this land and Indigenous people it’s really important to remind ourselves of the responsibility that we have living on this land and in this system of systemic racism and destructive capitalism, and all the rest.
“We remind ourselves that we don’t have the right to enjoy life on this land, we earn the right to call it home, and we’re so grateful to live on Haida land.”
Band member Mark Baggaley later told the Observer he was surprised by Weder’s statement.
“She did not ask other members for their consent to make these statements as a presentation of us as a whole,” Baggaley said, adding that all band members support the struggle of people who have been oppressed, and support Haida and other First Nations people.
Even though Port Clements chief administrative officer Ruby Decock confirmed there was no birdhouse contest, softball, mudbog or otherwise taking place in their village, mayor Doug Daugert did share some special words on social media.
“The people of Port Clements and all of Haida Gwaii and the rest of Canada have been bearing a heavy burden with the restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus. It has been a severe challenge to deal with the social and economic difficulties that were imposed to attempt to ‘flatten the curve’ and lessen the impact on our health, our health-care and the deaths of Canadians. The good news is that our efforts have not been wasted and we have seen no deaths from the virus on Haida Gwaii,” Daugert wrote.
“Although we really miss the traditional Canada Days in Port Clements, we are all still alive to celebrate yourselves, our hometown heroes.”
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