Archive for June, 2017

Summer of celebration #canada150 #salmonarm #muni150
June 14, 2017

This column first appeared in the June/July All Month Edition of the Friday AM

While summer is always a reason to celebrate in the Great White North, this summer, it’s particularly the case.

July 1 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. Lately, I have been wondering if the Fathers of Confederation, whose vision of what this country could be in the world, really understood how momentous their decision was. I am sure it did not come without debate, disagreement or discord because, it’s been my experience at least, that no decision of consequence ever does.

In the intervening century and a half since that fateful conference, we have fine tuned the concept of Canada and continue to do so. During WW1 and WW2 we showed bravery, courage and sacrifice. The world hasn’t forgotten. In 1967 we invited the world to Expo and put them on notice that Canada was a forward-looking force of the future. In 1982, the repatriation of the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms sent us on a better course. I’m deeply hopeful our efforts at reconciliation with First Nations will continue to do the same. There is no doubt that we have much work to do. But it’s also been my experience, that anything worth doing means embracing every single opportunity for improvement.

For the next twelve weeks, much of our national attention span will be focussed on celebrating Canada 150. And I, for one, am excited that Salmon Arm is on board.

I am home, just this week, from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Conference in Ottawa. It will come as no surprise that their celebration planning is in over drive. The whole city is wrapped in a shiny red ribbon of events appropriate to a national capital celebrating a national milestone. But Ottawa does not a country make. In towns and cities, some big, some small, across the country, events and projects are planned and underway.

Salmon Arm is a member of FCM and when the call went out to nominate a Canada 150 community champion, I was honoured and delighted when Council nominated me as Chair of our local Canada 150 committee. I was also delighted to receive a letter from the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Melanie Joly, thanking our community for the work we’ve done and continue to do for Canada 150.

Our local committee has been working since the Spring of 2016 to coordinate and support each other in the planning of events and projects. It’s no surprise to me that this community continues to make its mark on the national stage and I’m proud of you for that.

From the Coast to Coast to Coast music concert series, to the Shuswap District Arts Council’s youth led 150 Voices documentary, from Plan B:E’s Volunteer Dinner and the Shuswap Children’s Association Play Box project at Blackburn park to the Shuswap Trail Alliance 150 legacy fund and Shuswap Theatre’s OZONE festival, this community has stepped up in these and many other ways so unexpected and so delightful, it bolsters my confidence in the idea of Canada, an inclusive and optimistic place in which to live.

And it’s not even summer yet. There’s plenty more to come.

On July 1, we’ll celebrate our young people with the ever popular Children’s Festival at the Fall Fair grounds. This volunteer organization continues to amaze me. Please support them with a few hours of volunteer work. Kids remember that. And one day, in the not too distant future, the decisions we need to make will be in their hands.

Later that evening, we’ll gather at Canoe Beach for the city’s major Canada 150 event, the Landmarks of Canada Community Picnic, where everyone is invited to take a virtual cross country trip featuring regional music by local musicians and stations with giant postcards from every province and territory in Canada. So bring your friends and family, your picnic and your camera. Let’s cross Canada and share an evening with one another. You’ll likely find me at the Quebec station enjoying my waste-free picnic of brie and baguette. After dinner in our province of choice, we’ll gather and listen (and possibly sing and dance) to our favourite Canadian tunes followed by a fast and furious fireworks display, the candle on the birthday cake, if you will.

But that’s not it. On July 9, celebrate Pioneer Day at Haney and participate and the opening of the Canada 150 cornerstone project, the Montebello Block Museum. It’s free and everyone is invited.

On July 14, head back to Canoe beach for the Dragon Boat Festival that will feature the original dragon boats given to Vancouver for Expo 86. These teak beauties, which introduced the sport to Canada, have been lovingly restored here in Salmon Arm.

There’s still more. In August, we’ll celebrate 25 years of our home-grown Roots and Blues Festival. In September, join the Salmon Arm Fair as it celebrates its 120th anniversary. The Salmon Arm Arts Centre’s entire year of exhibits have a national theme from tuques, to trains, to renown artist Chris Kran. We continue to punch above our weight in arts and culture.

And even as summer approaches, it’s not too late to add more events and projects because, if Canada has taught me anything, it’s that we all have a role to play, a flag to fly, some maple syrup to sip, and a contribution to make. This can’t be said of every country.

Canada is a gift. Unwrap and enjoy it your way this very special summer. Celebrate 150.