By KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on July 2, 2022.
Community was a central theme of Canada Day this year, as southeastern Albertans came together to celebrate – some for the first time since 2019.
“It’s so good to be out with all the people and seeing all the happy faces and just being together again,” Redcliff resident Pat Hauck told the News.
Canada Day began bright and early for Hauck, as she, town councillor Jim Steinke, and other friends enjoyed a pancake breakfast put on by the Redcliff Lions Club.
Longtime hosts of the town’s Canada Day celebration, the Redcliff Lions and Lionettes were glad to be behind the griddle once again.
“Unfortunately, with COVID we were pretty much on hold,” Lions president Alastair Lowry said. “Which put a very big damper on, not only the Lions and Lionettes members, but the whole community.
“Now that restrictions are down, people can come out, talk, laugh and have fun … I think it’s about giving back to the community. And to let community know we can all come together to celebrate Canada.”
“It’s so good that everybody comes to celebrate,” Jacqueline Gonzalez said. “You meet new faces, you talk to people in the community, and you get to know the business and work and (build) good relations.”
A full day of fun followed the pancake breakfast, including live music, face painting, old fashioned games, a free hotdog lunch and more.
While Redcliff’s celebration started off the day, the party moved to Medicine Hat’s Exhibition & Stampede in the afternoon.
Now in its second year, the Stampede’s Canada Day celebrations began at noon when officials – including Mayor Linnsie Clark, MLAs Drew Barnes and Michaela Frey, acting police chief Joe West, fire chief Brian Stauth, representatives from CFB Suffield, Stampede board of directors president Dave Ziegenhagel, Rodeo Queen Bailee McNaughton and more – welcomed attendees and reflected on what Canada Day means to them.
Clark drew audible praise for her speech which touched on the many ways Canada’s national identity is related to community.
“We are a welcoming country and we benefit so much from what Canada has to offer,” Clark said. “And we’re in the enviable position of being able to share that with other people. And that’s an amazing thing.
“I think growing up, especially in a more rural setting, you understand the value of your neighbours and you learn to find ways to focus on what you have in common … In Canada, while we don’t get to choose our neighbours, we do choose to be neighbourly.”
Following the welcoming ceremony, celebration goers were able to tour Co-op Pioneer Village, grab a bite to eat, taste test competition cakes, listen to live music or take part in a variety of activities and games. The night ended with a bang, as fireworks lit up the sky after dark.