As Canada Day is approaching for the first time in a few years without restrictions, some say this year's celebrations could be robust and vibrant.

Tom Urbaniak, political scientist at Cape Breton University, says the past year hasn't been easy on the country.

"Canada has gone through a lot of soul-searching. Canada is going through a time of division and polarization," said Urbaniak.

He references the trucker convoy that occupied Ottawa this past winter, and anti-government protests that continue – and the Canadian flag has been front and centre at these events.

"There have been attempts recently, by factions, by ideological groups in Canadian society to 'capture the flag,' so to speak. To appropriate it as their symbol, but for most Canadians the flag doesn't represent a particular protest ideology," he said.

Last year, Canada Day came weeks after human remains were discovered near former residential schools on the west coast.

For some, celebrations were toned done, or not held at all.

A year later, one Mi'kmaq leader says he expects some may go back to marking the day with red and white.

"If that's what people want to do, that's fine. I know I will be wearing orange, and I know that I will be celebrating just like I celebrated on National Indigenous Peoples Day," said Jeff Ward.

Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan held a feast to mark the first anniversary since 751 unmarked graves were found. Both Ward and Urbaniak said there will be conversations about reconciliation again this year, despite some celebrating as normal.

"I think one of the beauties about Canada is that we can face some of those stark realities and have those conversations," said Urbaniak.