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Ladysmith celebrates Canada Day in style

"I still very much celebrate being Canadian"

Monday, July 1 marked Canada's 157 birthday under sunny, warm skies.

To mark the annual holiday the Town of Ladysmith’s Parks, Recreation and Culture department hosted a celebration at Transfer Beach Park.

The day began with the Ladysmith Kinsmen putting on a pancake breakfast at 9 a.m. The members of the club made pancakes and cooked sausages and the lineup was all the way across the park by the time the Kinsmen had their first batch ready.

“The lineup never went down," said pancake chair Kin Al Moore. "It was astounding to see so many children and grown-ups, all in their various Canada paraphernalia, patiently in line. There was so much going on at the park and our club being able to be a part of it made all our members proud.” 

“Man were we busy and we served over 400 breakfast meals, and we did it in less than three hours. It was fun,” said Kinsmen member Jason Kelland.

The main celebration started at 11 a.m. at the amphitheatre with Stz’uminus Elder Buffi David welcoming the crowd and then giving the prayer for the event and all the spectators.

Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone and some members of council were also present for the opening, along with Ladysmith’s candidate for BC Ambassador, Sidney Mrus. Stone welcomed the spectators as well and thanked all the volunteers and sponsors for helping with the event.

“I am Canadian," said Stone in addressing the spectators. "In the last number of years, Canada Day has become a day of reflection as much as celebration. As it should be. I still very much celebrate being Canadian and the good fortune I feel for being born and raised here. For all our flaws (and there are many) we are so very fortunate to live in this country. Today I'm reflecting on the divisions that are becoming more and more apparent in our country, and I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel like what Canada means to me. We are a diverse country with diverse ideas, and I truly believe that is our strength. Diversity doesn't equal division. To me, part of being Canadian means being open to each other. To focus on our common bonds while we work together to resolve our differences. To embrace many of those stereotypes of being Canadian that I have actually always been so proud of. Our politeness. Our togetherness. Our pride.

“So, once again let me say, I am Canadian, and proudly so. I aim to embrace every person and understand every point of view. I continue to believe that in the heart of almost every Canadian, we want to do better. We want to find understanding. We want to reconcile with our nation's past. Celebrating our willingness to do so is OK. I encourage it! Huy tseep q’u” (thank you).

This was the town’s first opportunity to use the new stage saddlespan tent, and the Doctors of Rock ’n’ Roll performed ‘O Canada' under 'the big top’.

Old Town Bakery made three large slab cakes decorated with the Canadian flag and after the national anthem the crowd was invited to come and get some, and all three cakes disappeared in record time.

The musical entertainment, for the most part of the day, featured groups like the Doctors of Rock ’n’ Roll, the Barsby School of Rock, Dennis Atkins and local Stz’uminus songwriter and singer Nate Harris, while on the park side there was a large assortment of games for children, including face painting and various booths including the local Marine Search and Rescue, the Ladysmith Arts Council, the Multicultural Association and others.

Visiting Ladysmith for Canada Day were members of the Elemia family and friends, from Nanaimo but originally from the Phillipines.

“We have been in Canada for three years now. It is very wonderful,” Evelyn Mindoza said.

“We come to Canada to work, the opportunity is here," said Jerrica Elemia said. "Also it allows us to be family, as my husband worked in Singapore and we are not allowed to be with him in Singapore. Here in Canada we are allowed to reunite and that is why we like it here.” 

Riley Elemia, who is going into Grade 3, said, “Canada is more different than the Philippines, because the Philippines has more languages.”

“Canada is much better, there is much more opportunity for us here," Mendoza said. "The difference, one of them, is that in the Phillipines we are closer. We have a strong family bond, we are living in one family community but here you are not too sure about who your neighbours are. People are friendly here and they stop and talk a bit, but they are so busy, many of them are having to work two jobs.”

Dennis and Susan Williams, both from Ladysmith, were both glad they attended.

“It was great and the cake was fantastic,” Dennis said.

The two said Canada's freedoms are important, as well as how polite Canadians are.

"Really though, we enjoy travelling and the acknowledgement we get, as Canadians, is amazing," said Susan. "We feel very welcome wherever we go, because we’re Canadian.”

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