A small number of office workers, Municipal Complex employees, and staff for Alberta Culture Days took in a largely unnoticed kick off for the start of Alberta’s first Alberta Day at City Hall.
At times, the gathering grew to tens of people, many of whom were more curious about the live music than about Alberta Day.
The City of Calgary included the Sept. 1, Alberta Day celebration as part of their Culture Days lineup. The event was headlined by local musicians Amy Hef and Celeigh Cardinal, followed by a traditional blessing by Elder Clarence Wolfleg.
The City of Calgary, in a tweet sent on August 31, promised free ice cream for the first 2,000 visitors to the Alberta Day and Culture Days kick off.
Gus Rook was one of the Calgarians that stopped at City Hall to take in the music and free ice cream. He said that Albertans didn’t need to choose between Alberta Day and the Canada-wide Labour Day holiday.
“I don’t think it has to be a competition, I think we’re gonna enjoy both.”
The Calgary Municipal Complex itself, along with the city’s courtesy flagpoles were adorned with Alberta’s provincial flag.
The Government of Alberta did not include the city’s municipal complex celebration on their official Alberta Day schedule.
The province is promoting a pair of larger festival events on Sept. 2 and 3 at Prince’s Island Park in Calgary, and at the Legislature Grounds in Edmonton.
Attendees not aware of Alberta Day
Raon Nieto, who works at City Hall, said they were attending the event in support of the city’s efforts in promoting Culture Days.
She said that prior to Thursday, she hadn’t heard about Alberta Day, or about the province’s weekend festival plans.
“It’s my first time to hear about the celebration, so maybe it’s still early.”
Nieto said that she hoped people would attend in greater numbers at the weekend celebrations.
Rook, prior to stopping at City Hall, didn’t know about the Alberta Day celebration. Still, he gave the city top marks for trying.
“I was riding through Calgary and I heard the music and stopped in. I had no idea what’s going on,” Rook said.
“It’s hot, it’s summer, free ice cream, great singers—seems like a great day.”
Alberta Government marks event in Edmonton with contrast in messages for Albertans
Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani, speaking in Edmonton, said that Alberta Day is a time to take stock of the path that Albertans have travelled together, and on the progress made towards working for positive change.
Lakhani also thanked the Indigenous peoples of Alberta for their leadership, friendship, and being part of Alberta’s shared journey.
“It is important to note that every person who makes their home on this land that we share becomes part of a treaty relationship that is an ongoing living agreement between peoples,” she said.
“We must also be aware that this fundamental relationship began well before the 117th provincial birthday that we are marking today.”
Alberta’s Minister of Culture Ron Orr used the occasion to take aim at the Federal government, claiming that Alberta has struggled to find an equal place in confederation.
Minister Orr invoked the 1930s fight between then Premier John Brownlee and the Liberal government of McKenzie King over resource rights. Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan upon entering confederation did not receive the same resource rights as the older provinces had received under the British North America Act.
He then took aim at the historic Pierre Trudeau government in the 1970s, and the current Justin Trudeau government for holding the province back, while simultaneously making the claim that Alberta is the economic powerhouse of the nation.
“The permanent family compact of a Laurentian elites have always skewed the deal in their favour,” Orr said.
“The attacks of our recent Trudeau Government, upon our energy, our resources, our wealth, our freedom, there are just so many ways that Albertans have struggled to to achieve our full and our fair place in this Confederation.”
Orr contrasted this lack of fair treatment within Canada by claiming that Alberta is envied by the world and is “unique and special in so many ways.”
“So we will continue to stand up for Alberta, to make this the greatest place that there ever was, has been, and it’s a chance today, for all of us to come together in the spirit of celebration to actually recognize how much we have,” he said.