By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Canada is on the cusp of celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017. This Canada Day, July 1, many southern Alberta communities will be holding festivities to celebrate Canada’s 149 years.
Proud Canadians almost own the stereotypes often used to describe Canada and being a Canadian. Whether we’re wearing a toque or eating poutine — Canadians or “hosers,” in their friendly and apologetic ways, say “that’s OK, eh.” Canadians are known to drink two-fours, sip and savour kegs of Tim Hortons coffee and have some of the best comics, hockey players, and musical acts including Rush and The Tragically Hip.
Coaldale is one of the communities in Lethbridge County celebrating Canada and being Canadian. Alysha Smith, Town of Coaldale arts and culture co-ordinator, said she is most excited about the town’s Canada Day inflatable obstacle course.
“We have a variety of different games and activities for everyone to be a part of, and there will be something for all ages from the youngest in the family to our grand and great grandparents. We will also have a variety of food including popcorn, a snow cone machine, Canada Day cake, and barbecued hot dogs,” Smith noted.
This year, Smith added, the town is doing something a little bit different. There will be a live stage.
“We’ll have people from the community performing. I’m really looking forward to some of the talent that will be on the stage. Following the main celebration, the pool will be open for a free swim too,” she said.
Canada Day events bring the community together to celebrate the awesome country Canadians live in, Smith said.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, who you are — during this celebration, we all get to proudly celebrate we live in Canada. It’s also a great way to get out with the family or with friends to enjoy a completely free event in our community,” said Smith.
Being Canadian, Smith said, means so much to so many different people.
“For me, I feel we’re lucky to live in such a big, beautiful country with so many things other countries don’t have. We have so much to love about the beautiful place we live in, we come together in hard times, and we all proudly tell anyone who will listen ‘I am Canadian.’ We celebrate Canadianess modestly but fiercely. I love that we can be so humble and passionate at the same time,” Smith said.
Coaldale’s Canada Day Festival Frenzy runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kin Picnic Shelter. Enjoy a carnival theme with live music, a free barbecue, carnival snacks, face painting and more. Free swimming starts at 2 p.m. at the Coaldale outdoor pool. Youth activities will be hosted by the CYAC.
The Town of Picture Butte and District’s Recreation and Culture Committee, along with the participation of the Government of Canada, proudly presents Canada Day in the Park from 1-4 p.m. July 1 at Lion’s Park. There will be live music, lunch (hot dogs, chips and pop for a small fee), treasure hunt, petting zoo and a bouncy castle.
Picture Butte Mayor Wendy Jones said Canadians live in a country that strives to be a non-judgemental society and everyone is welcome to share their backgrounds.
“To live our varied culture, our varied religions, our varied lifestyles —without ridicule or persecution. I see strife and hardship in other parts of the world and I am constantly reminded Canada is a great country and we are lucky to live in an accepting, compassionate, prosperous country,” Jones noted.
Jones said she loves being a Canadian and is proud to call herself Canadian because of Canada’s freedoms.
“Happy Canada Day — celebrate our country, our community, and our diverse heritage and history and a toast to a wonderful future,” added Jones.
Christy Godlonton, chairperson for the rec and culture committee, said the event will have more family-friendly activities this year including live music featuring Dory and the Weathermen.
“We believe it is so important to celebrate Canada Day in our small community because we have such a large amount of cultures living in Picture Butte, so it is nice to pay tribute to such an amazing country we all call home. Also, it keeps residents local to celebrate,” Godlonton added.
Godlonton noted she loves being Canadian and raising her family in Canada, Lethbridge County and in Picture Butte.
“I love living in a country where anything is possible and you feel very safe,” said Godlonton.
In Coalhurst, Kim Horak said, the town will have a great fun-filled family afternoon with Coalhurst’s Celebration in the Park featuring live entertainment by Alyssa McQuaid, the Coalhurst Fire Department’s Slip and Slide, the Neighbourhood Play Program’s face painting and tattoos and from Parker’s Parties a bouncy castle and obstacle course.
There will also be hotdogs, pop, chips, cotton candy, popcorn and sno-cones. All the fun takes place at the Coalhurst Elementary School from 1-4 p.m. July 1.