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Photos: Canada Day in Calgary

Tens of thousands of Calgarians took in the city’s Canada Day festivities, marking both a day of celebration for the nation but also a complex day of milestones in Canadian history.

The festival this year was more multicultural than in previous ones, with a focus on giving cultural groups space to show of their own cultures and connections to Canada.

“Just to walk around and see the community of people coming together the energy of everybody celebrating or reflecting in whatever way they’d like, is so amazing,” said Jonathan Radomski, an event coordinator with the arts and culture at the City of Calgary.

“The weather is holding up, and it’s beautiful just to see and witness and watch from a distance.”

Radomski said that this year was one that marked a real return to the city’s desire for a full slate of Canada Day activities.

“Last year, we still had a bit of the Covid cloud that hung over, so we couldn’t do a full Canada Day like we liked. But this year, we made a real effort to listen, bringing a lot of groups,” he said.

“We included our anti racism and diversity team. We did a lot of work with the Indigenous Relations Office with the City of Calgary. We did a lot of listening with the Chinese community, and just wanted to make sure everybody felt included.”

Canada Day is a day of many meanings

Canada Day has meant a day of celebration for many Canadians, among them the many new Canadians who took their citizenship oaths at Heritage Park. But for other people from Indigenous and Chinese backgrounds, today marked difficult periods in Canadian history.

Canada Day 2023 also marked the 100 year anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act—a period marked by extreme societal racism that led to Chinese people being unable to emigrate to Canada.

“This day is tough for a lot of people but we wanted to give them an outlet to come together and build the community,” said Radomski.

The Canada Day celebrations began at City Hall, Olympic Plaza, and Fort Calgary with blessings by Indigenous Elders, followed by displays of lion dances and other Asian cultural heritage.

For Calgary’s Sikh community, Canada Day 2023 marked a return of the how to tie a turban demonstrations, that had dozens of non-Sikh Calgarians walking around for the rest of the day in their own turban.

The event, which had run pre-Covid until being ended due to the pandemic, returned after enthusiastic local volunteers decided to bring it back despite not having a backing organization.

“People are always waiting to get a volunteer to tie a turban. So it’s been it’s been steady crowd since morning,” said Sukhvinder Malth

“I think it’s important for all Canadians to know who we are, what our identity is, and what the turban means.”

Message about finding common ground

Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who travelled to a number of the day’s events across the city, said that her message was essentially the same at all of them.

“I think we need to remember that each day of our lives has multiple meanings not only for ourselves, but other people around us as well,” she said.

“I think it’s important to celebrate the fact that we are in a nation that has given many of us so much opportunity and so much hope. However, we have a history that can’t be forgotten—it is possible to do two things at once.”

The message, said Mayor Gondek, was one of recognizing that history cannot be allowed to repeat itself, while encouraging inclusiveness, kindness, and compassion.

“We can be proud of where we live, while acknowledging that there is work to do,” she said.

“There’s a really strong sense of optimism and hope for who we are as a nation and who we can continue to become. I think it’s amazing to see so many groups coming out and showing who they are, and just being proud of the role that they play in this nation.”

Photos from Canada Day in Calgary

The view of the Fort Calgary setup for Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Drummers perform during the lion dances at City Hall Plaza on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A woman joins in, dancing along side the lion dance at City Hall Plaza on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A young lion dance performer smiles from underneath a lion custime at City Hall Plaza on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Children run to collect candy from one of the lion dance performers at City Hall Plaza on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Sings Many Songs Women performs the strong women song in the Municipal Complex Atrium on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Mayor Jyoti Gondek, right, leads the Mayor’s Canada Day Storytime at the Calgary Public Library Central Library on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Visitors take in the Olympic Plaza wading pool, the free concerts, and the food trucks on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
KIds and dogs play in the Olympic Plaza wading pool on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Rattle & Strum play Olympic Plaza with their brand of kid friendly music, on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Three Left Feet was back to perform (and pose for a few selfies) at Fort Calgary on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Hundreds of visitors brave the nearly clear skies and high heat to take in Canada Day at Fort Calgary in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Drummers lead in the grand entry for the Indigenous Powwow and Showcase at Fort Calgary on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Dancers follower in the grand entry for the Indigenous Powwow and Showcase at Fort Calgary on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Dancers follower in the grand entry for the Indigenous Powwow and Showcase at Fort Calgary on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
The flags of Canada, Alberta, Treaty 7, Metis Region 3, Every Child Matters, and the U.S. are displayed during the grand entry for the Indigenous Powwow and Showcase at Fort Calgary on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. Each flag has strong meaning for the Indigenous people of Alberta. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A man is taught how to tie a turban from Sikh volunteers at Fort Calgary on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Hundreds cross from Fort Calgary and the River Pathway System to St. Patrick’s Island for Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
The St. Patrick’s Island wading area was a popular destination for kids wanting to beat the heat, and parents to take in the beats of live music on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Visitors enjoy The Rise on St. Patrick’s Island on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Hundreds take in the East Village Street Fair on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Visitors collect free Canada themed hats and fans from BDO, at the East Village Street Fair during Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A boy checks out the puppies at the Calgary Humane Society booth during the East Village Street Fair on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Musicians perform at the East Village Street Fair on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Visitors collect stickers from Ward 7 Councillor Terry Wong’s booth at the East Village Street Festival on Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
The Harry Hay’s Federal Building bedecked in Canadian Flags for Canada Day in Calgary on Saturday, July 1, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

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