By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – After an absence of several years, Canada Day returns to Morinville this year with a low key and historically-themed celebration of the nation’s 144th birthday. Hosted by the Morinville Historical and Cultural Society, the event will provide Morinvillians and visitors with a blending of old and new as well as a blending of the cultures that were present when Morinville was born 100 years ago.
Historical Society member and organizer Murray Knight said the idea was tossed around by the society with the conclusion Canada Day must be brought back to Morinville. “We’re driving the idea of family based,” Knight said, adding the concept is an old time Canada Day celebration to take place in St. Jean Baptiste Park in downtown Morinville.
For Knight himself, the desire to see a celebration of Canada’s formation is extremely important. “I’m a big Canadian,” he said. “My dad was overseas and got shot up. My uncle was overseas and got shot up. My grandpa was in the First World War. I think we have to remember we have a flag and we have a country for what other people have done. We’re not always showing that some days – so, yeah, it doesn’t have to be shooting guns or burning up police cars, but we’re proud of Canada and we want a Canada Day here.”
Knight said this year’s return of Canada Day to Morinville will be a modest celebration but will be built on in subsequent years. “We’ll start small. We’ll learn to crawl. Next year we’ll learn to walk. Then in a couple years, we’ll be running,” he said, adding family will be central to the event.
The day begins at 8:15 Canada Day with the Try-athlon hosted by FunTeam Alberta. The family-friendly event combines a 2-kilometre bike ride, 2 km walk or run and a FunTeam obstacle course. Each team will be made up of three people: one under the age of 18, one over the age of 18, and the final of any age at all. All teams will be entered into a draw to win local prizes. The event takes place at Bob Foster Extreme Park in Morinville and entry forms are available at Investors Group on 100 Street.
Following the Try-athlon, Canada Day will continue with an old fashioned picnic in the park beginning at 11:45 a.m., something Knight said really brings the sense of family to the event. “The picnic in the park was a blanket and a picnic on the ground,” Knight said of years gone by. “I know that concept is a little hard to grasp for some people today in a different era and a different time, but we’re going to try and put it into perspective to make it sort of a drawing card for families to come and sit in the park.”
The afternoon’s activities will begin with a smudging ceremony conducted by an Elder from Alexander First Nation, followed by the raising of the Canadian Flag in front of the Musée Morinville Museum. A flag pole is currently being installed for that purpose. The National Anthem will be sung in English, French and Cree, followed by a simulated 21 gun salute, the latter an opportunity to offer some noise to mark the day in lieu of fireworks.
Additional activities will be available for children, including bouncy tents, live music and face painting.
For Knight and the historical society there was a strong desire to make Alexander First Nation an integral part of the celebrations. “It’s 134 years of Alexander as a nation, us [Morinville] at 100 years as a town and Canada at 144 years,” Knight said. “I think it’s three great birthdays. Looking at the cultural side of life; the more partnerships we build with Alexander the better off we are.”
In fact, Knight said this year’s event would not have been possible without the assistance of Alexander First Nation, the Town of Morinville and FunTeam Alberta.