A parade of patriotism and a big birthday for the games

Myrna Driedger, MLA Winnipeg Manitoba Progressive Conservative (PC) caucus
Myrna Driedger
Broadway Journal

Canada “puffed up” its chest and paraded its patriotism as we celebrated our 150th birthday on July 1. And what a celebration it was! Fireworks, parades, music, and so many other projects that are going on all year. There have been pieces of art created, plays and dances performed – some large projects and some small. And of course, Winnipeg’s giant living maple leaf at Portage and Main, which has been viewed by millions around the world.

Pembina Trails School Division organized another project to celebrate Canada 150. They believe it was one of the largest school-based Canada 150 events in the country. More than 15,000 Pembina Trails students, staff and honourary speakers and performers gathered at Investors Group Field on May 24 for a Canada 150 event unlike any other.

Highlights from the Pembina Trails Canada 150 Project program included: a 2,400-piece student band performing O Canada, a 15,000-person living flag, a display of 34 unique Canada 150 floats and a division-wide, 34 km relay along the Trans Canada Trail that wrapped up with a ceremonial lap around the stadium. Each Pembina Trails student and staff created a pledge stating how they will make Canada a better place. These thousands of promises have been turned into a massive Pembina Trails Book of Pledges, which was unveiled at Investor’s Group Field.

You have to love the enthusiasm of youth and the innovation of staff at all of the schools!

Another thing that I heard recently that really impressed me was the acceptance speeches of some of the 2017 National Performing Arts Awards presented by Governor General David Johnston. Singer Michael Bublé and actors Michael J. Fox and Martin Short were among seven recipients of the awards, which recognize “foremost distinction for excellence in the performing arts.”

What struck me was their heartfelt and emotional thank you’s to a country that they all consider “home”. Michael Bublé commented how “our country has a way of making us all feel completely distinct yet without any superiority”. Michael Fox spoke of Canada’s “diverse culture and majestic beauty”, and thanked Canada “for the warm embrace of home.” Martin Short described how he has loved and been so proud of being Canadian all his life. And he added, “It’s like being the hippest member of any group.”

To celebrate the 150th birthday of Canada, Manitoba was fortunate to have been awarded the Canada Summer Games which take place from July 28 to Aug. 13. During this period athletes from across the country are gathering to compete in many sports. The Canada Games are held every two years, with Winter Games one year alternating with Summer Games two years later, and they are a key event in the development of Canada’s young athletes. Featuring 16 sports, over 250 events and a major cultural festival, the 2017 Canada Games will welcome over 4,000 athletes and coaches and more than 20,000 visitors.

The Canada Games are this country’s largest multi-sport event for young athletes and in 2017 will celebrate their 50th anniversary at the same time as Canada’s 150th birthday. The 2017 Canada Summer Games will leave a legacy of new and enhanced sport facilities. As well, by training volunteers and leaders to carry out these games, this experience will have a lasting effect that will benefit athletes and the broader community for years to come. The Canada Games are a powerful, nation-building event that promotes unity, cultural understanding, and diversity.

I hope everyone gets an opportunity to take in some part of the Canada Games this summer, whether to watch an athletic event or take in another activity associated with the games.

Until next January, you can visit the Manitoba Museum to see a new collection exploring the impact of Canadian Confederation on the people and the land that would become Manitoba. At the time of Confederation in 1867 there were only four provinces. At that time Manitoba was only a fur trade outpost. Manitoba became the fifth province to join Canada in 1870. So, if you are interested in Manitoba history, I encourage you to visit this current collection, which will answer many questions about how we became the province that we are.

Canadians were honoured to receive Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall at our Canada Day festivities. In addition to thanking our Governor General for his seven years of service as the Queen’s representative in Canada, Prince Charles also paid tribute to Canada’s war dead, recounting his visit to Vimy Ridge earlier this year to mark the 100th anniversary of that devastating battle. “Canada,” he said, is a celebrated champion of human rights, peacekeeping and diversity.”

So, it appears we have lots to celebrate this year as we continue Canada 150 celebrations. I have always been a proud Canadian and proud Manitoban. However, this feeling of pride seems to be taking on new significance over the past couple of years. As the world around us changes, the distinct place that we as Canadians have on a global level becomes even more pronounced. And more than ever I appreciate how fortunate I am to be Canadian – with a glowing heart!

Hon. Myrna Driedger is MLA for Charleswood and Speaker of the legislative assembly.

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