On Friday, people from all walks of life celebrated what Canada means to them at Wascana Park in Regina.
Hundreds of people attended live music, entertainment and lots of poutine and snow cones to mark Canada Day.
Regina Multicultural Council board member Holly Paluck said she was extremely happy to see all the families celebrating the occasion.
“We’re so excited to be at a public event and connect with other people,” Paluck said.
There was a lot of red, white, and orange in the crowd, as many people chose to wear orange to remember and honor the victims, survivors, and families of Indigenous people forced to attend residential schools.
Carol LaFayette-Boyd, volunteer executive director of the Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum, said Indigenous peoples and children weigh heavily on her mind.
“We still remember all the things they went through and especially the lost young women,” she said. “We remember them today too.”
LaFayette-Boyd set up a booth at the “cultural village” on Wascana Lake, where many creative groups, including German dancers and young Somalis, celebrated Canada Day.
And she reflected on how her own family came to Canada from Iowa in 1906 and Oklahoma in 1910.
“We settled on lands that were really not ours. And we thank the aboriginals for allowing us to be here. So I’m grateful to Canada because my family left the United States to come and have a better life here.
Kien Nguyen’s family came from Vietnam 10 years ago and he said he was grateful for the health care, education and kindness Canadians showed his family.
“We want to thank your Canadian government” for the opportunity to live here, said Nguyen, who was all smiles in a Canada hat.
And Nguyen’s young son Kenny said he loves Canada because “it’s his favourite”.
A respectful conversation
Saskatchewan Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Laura Ross helped serve pancakes in the park and noted that the new Canadians were enjoying the celebration.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” she said. “As minister responsible for culture, it really does. It’s absolutely amazing. They really celebrate and [we’re] just making sure they feel like they probably came to the best country in the world.”
She also said there have been “respectful conversations” this year.
“It was wonderful to see people wearing orange shirts,” she said. It is important for people to understand Aboriginal issues “so that we can now heal and move forward.”
Dani Bauche was hesitant to bring his kids to the Canada Day festivities, but in the end, they all decided to show up in their orange shirts.
“I had a conversation with my kids this morning about the importance of taking a minute to recognize that the Canadian government still has a lot of work to do in terms of truth and reconciliation,” Bauche said.
“And conversations like what’s happened to the Indigenous peoples of this province and all the unmarked graves that we’ve found over the last two years in this country…the conversation has quieted down a bit.”
Bauche said she teaches her children that it is important to remind the government that people have not forgotten and still want to take action.
Attendance figures for the day were not available at press time. More people are expected to mark the occasion with fireworks in the park around 10:30 p.m. CST.