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Port Moody Canada Day event cancelled by organizers 'in light of discoveries of unmarked graves' at residential schools

Organizers of a Canada Day drive-thru celebration in Port Moody have cancelled the event "in light of discoveries of unmarked graves at Canada's former residential school sites." Meanwhile, events in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam are still going ahead.
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The famous Golden Spike can-can dancers were scheduled to be a part of Port Moody's drive-thru Canada Day on July 1. The event has been cancelled by organizers, although a virtual online event will still go ahead, from July 2 to 4.

Port Moody residents will have to create their own fun for Canada Day after organizers of a drive-thru celebration announced Sunday it’s cancelling the event.

In a brief statement, the Golden Spike Days Society said it is cancelling the July 1 drive-thru event at the Port Moody recreation centre “in light of discoveries of unmarked graves at Canada’s former residential school sites, including the remains of 215 children at a former BC residential school.”

The event’s virtual component, that includes musical performances, as well as cooking and craft demonstrations, will shift from July 1 to 4 to July 2 to 4 instead.

According to Ken Nielsen, the president of the non-profit society that organizes Port Moody’s annual Golden Spike Days festival and the adjacent Canada Day celebrations, the drive-thru event was going to feature the Golden Spike can-can dancers, clowns twisting balloons, musical performances by festival favourites like The Dueling Pianos, all set up in booths along a route through the rec centre’s parking lot.Dueling Pianos, all set up in booths along a route through the rec centre’s parking lot.

After navigating the 10- to 15-minute circuit, visitors could then indulge at a selection of up to five food trucks at the end where treats would be delivered right to their cars.

Meanwhile, the $10-per-car admission fee will be refunded to advance ticket buyers.

Organizers had been struggling to come up with a creative way to keep its Canada Day festivities alive amidst the ever-shifting public health restrictions to limit transmission of COVID-19 after last year’s event was cancelled outright.

The virtual Golden Spike festival, which highlights Port Moody’s railroad history as a terminus for the first trans-Canada rail line, includes the return of the popular Tri-Cities Got Talent competition that offers $1,800 in prizes to preteen, youth and adult singers, dancers, bands, comedians and instrumentalists. Past winners include pop star Carly Rae Jepsen and country music performer Madeline Merlo.

Registration to view the virtual event, from 12 a.m., July 2 to 11:59 p.m., July 4, is free at

Nielsen said organizers are looking forward to welcoming back the celebrations at Rocky Point Park next summer.

In Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, Canada Day celebrations are still going ahead as well as a protest against those celebrations, organized by Black Lives Matter Tri-Cities for July 1, at 2 p.m. in Port Coquitlam.

PoCo Mayor Brad West and Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart each urged their communities to use the occasion to “reflect and commit to reconciliation.”

In a social media post, Stewart said, “I will support the continuation of Coquitlam’s Canada Day, though with modifications to demonstrate our respect, to expand our understanding and to build toward reconciliation.”

For a complete, updated listing of Canada Day activities in the Tri-Cities go here.

with file from Diane Strandberg