Happy Canada Day!
Prince George, B.C. – Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park was a sea of people, many wearing the red and white of the Canadian flag or carrying flags themselves, as the Multicultural Heritage Society hosted its annual Canada Day Party, this special one to mark the country’s 150th birthday.
Thousands upon thousands of people gathered in the sunshine to share a common celebration and enjoy entertainment from a wide variety of cultures along with food from around the globe at the international food fair.
Following opening ceremonies a very long lined formed of those wishing to have a piece of the enormous 4-foot by 8-foot birthday cake marking the occasion and were treated to a fly-past by a Royal Canadian Air Force CP140 long range patrol aircraft from 419 Tactical Squadron based at CFB Cold Lake.
There was plenty to do throughout the park for the kids, including crafts, face painting and the ever-popular Waterspray Park. Big Sisters Big Brothers had a beach volleyball tournament going to help support local children. Exploration Place put on a barbecue in support of Science Alliance Summer Camp for kids and the Little Prince steam engine ran pretty well non-stop through the park.
There was also an opportunity to head to the banks of the Fraser River to watch the competitors in the Northern Hardware Canoe Race paddle their hearts out to the finish line off the park. The Two Rivers Canoe Club-Celebrate 150 event was followed by a barbecue and awards ceremony.
Canada Day is all about celebrating the country we live in and we spoke with a few of the thousands on hand to learn what Canada means to them. Like Cliff, who said “when you’re old like I am it’s a day where you go to the park and see a whole lot of people you don’t usually see.” He expressed his patriotism saying “I vote every time, sometimes it doesn’t do me any good but it doesn’t turn out that bad. Just think, we could be living in the States.”
Lee says Canada Day “is a celebration of the time we’ve been here and hopefully it will become a celebration for the First Nations people having been here for 15,000 years or more.” He wants them celebrated “because they haven’t damaged the environment in all those years.”
Alex, maybe 9 years old, says for him Canada means “the diversity of our people, the culture and really, love. I think there’s a whole lot of love to go around. I think we’re the most wonderful country on the planet.”
His buddy Thomas says “I guess it kind of means like what the 4th of July is for Americans. We get to celebrate how long our country has been around.” Would you rather be American or Canadian, we asked. “A Canadian. I like America but I think Canada is a bit more peaceful.”
Nick the engineer runs the Little Prince and feels “Canada is the greatest country in the world. I been most places in the world except Asia and I’m always comparing to Canada and I haven’t been any place that I’d rather be than Canada. The people, diversity, nature, wide-open spaces and just the feeling of Canada. I don’t get that in a lot of other places.”
To Elaine Canada means “freedom, a great place to live, beautiful scenery, great people, all the things you could ask for. There’s many other beautiful countries out there but I really enjoy Canada. Yay Canada!
Her friend Wendy says “it’s freedom, and we do have a beautiful country here. Like her I, too, was born here, I have never lived in another country so I don’t know but ya, I think we have it all and have a lot to be thankful for.”
Kate is a young lady who says “Canada, for me, means multicultural and inclusive and really, just home.” Is there any other place you would rather call home? “No, no way, Canadian through and through.”
Her buddy Kendra says Canada “means having the freedom to be yourself and having the opportunities to showcase that to other people and get to know other people. I also wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Maybe visit, but always come back to Canada, for sure.”
Mayor Lyn Hall says “it’s a reflection of what we are in Canada and we’re a multicultural country, a diversified country. We’re a country of acceptance and I think that’s really key for me and we’re not only seeing that throughout the country but I think that’s reflected in Prince George. And on our 150th, its an even more special time for us to reflect on what Canada is, the great country we are and what we provide not only to Canadians that were born here but people who have come here from other countries and taken on a Canadian citizenship.”
The mayor’s better half, Lorrelle, says “being Canadian is just pride. I’m so proud to be Canadian and you know one of my best friends in the world is from Africa and I met her when she first came here. And she very soon after became a Canadian and is so proud to be a Canadian. It just make my heart big. Like Lyn said, I am such a proud Prince Georgian, I love this city, this country and I just think we are so blessed.”
Tonight sees the kick-off of the eight-day “Heatwave” summer music festival from 7 to 10:30 pm at Canada Games Plaza followed by the big Canada Day fireworks display from atop Connaught Hill at 11 pm.