Edmontonians mark Canada Day by celebrating and reflecting

From drumming circles, charity runs, to a healing walk, Edmontonians found a way to celebrate their country or reflect on its past in a manner that felt right to them.

After two years of pandemic pivots, different groups returned to in-person celebrations to mark Canada Day.

A healing walk took place in recognition of Canada's dark history with residential schools and to champion the continuing work that needs to be done to heal from that past.

"There's a lot of people who don't celebrate Canada Day, especially in our Indigenous communities," said Jasmine Babee, an organizer of the event. "Canada Day means unity to me. At the end of the day, we're all part of the same tribe, the two-legged tribe.

"So it's just about being kind to one another and understanding each other," Babee added. 

"We're getting asked harder questions and having more challenging dialogue with people who are asking for recognition and reconciliation," said Erin McDonald, Legislative Assembly of Alberta visitor services manager.

"And this is an important part of our work as Canadian citizens," McDonald added. "Here today, we'd like to celebrate both Canadians who have come here and Indigenous peoples who have been here for some time before them."

Across the grounds, the Canada Day Road Race returned, giving hundreds of people the opportunity to run or walk while raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Joan Radford, race director, said the iconic event has run for more than 30 years and represents a tradition for many families to give back.

"Everybody's so keen and eager to be back," Radford said. "It's heartfelt for me."

This year the event featured a 10-kilometre and five-kilometre lengths and a 2.5-kilometre course around the legislature.

"I've been race directing this for 25 years, and I see a lot of the same faces," she added. "I see people wearing shirts from five or 10 years ago.

"It just makes me feel really great that people are coming out and wanting to celebrate, start their Canada Day with a healthy approach."

A unique event at West Edmonton Mall combined various cultural demonstrations to showcase different ethnicities calling Alberta's capital city home.

Chinese lion dancers and drummers, Japanese Taiko drummers, and others drummed for six minutes to signify unity, said Donald Yu, Edmonton Branch president for the National Congress of Chinese Canadians.

"(We are) all coming together to drum for peace, love, respect, unity, and diversity," Yu said. "Any culture has drumming. We put all these drummers together to share that."

"It's so important that we get everybody to join us to project the Canadian theme of living in harmony and peace," Yu added.

At the Ahmadiyya mosque, a BBQ and prayer service was hosted to mark Canada Day — one of many events at other mosques across the country.

"(We are) celebrating Canada Day by showing love for Canada," said Nasi Butt, an iman. "This is very, very essential to keep ourselves united."

"We are very, very much thankful to Canada," Butt added. "Different people, different communities are coming here... to celebrate Canada Day together."

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi attended the event and said whatever way Edmontonians are marking Canada Day, they all represented a way to come together as one community.

"It's a very special day, where we come together celebrating who we are as people and reflect on the history of this country," the major said.

"It's an opportunity for all of us to come together to celebrate our diversity and how we're working together in our city to build a better, inclusive city," Sohi added. "An Edmonton for all of us."