BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Allan and Eliza Kingdon of Erickson, Man., displayed their patriotism with their red and white maple leafs during Sunday's Canada Day celebrations at the Riverbank Discovery Centre.
What do you get the country that has everything for its birthday?
Ducks float along the Assiniboine River during Sunday's Riverbank Discovery Centre Duck Race fundraiser during the city's Canada Day celebrations. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
As Canada Day roared through the Wheat City yesterday, bringing a sea of red and white with it, sometimes a fresh perspective can shed an enormous amount of light on why the nation’s birthday is such an important milestone.
"The beautiful blue sky," said Jinfang Wang, when asked what makes Canada so special.
"The green trees," added her husband Zhichun Li.
"The grass and water," Wang said pointing to the ponds and lush greenery near the Riverbank Discovery Centre.
Born with an abundance of riches 145 years ago, Canada celebrates the enactment of the British North American Act every year on July 1 — today it is called the Constitution Act and the birthday was formerly known as Dominion Day.
For Li, who immigrated to Canada five years ago for employment and then brought Wang and the couple’s 10-year-old daughter Claire over two years later, Canada Day represents opportunity.
"We love it here," Wang said. "It is such a special day and hopefully next year it can even be better."
What could possible be better than spending a warm, sunny day on the Riverbank Discovery Centre’s grounds, complete with live entertainment, fair food, traditional First Nations’ dancing and everything imaginable for kids, including train rides, face painting and bouncy houses?
Celebrating the day as a Canadian citizen.
"We are (in the process) of applying to become citizens now," Li said with a smile. "So hopefully next year, today is better."
Looking around the grounds, the cultural mosaic that the country prides itself on being was evident as groups of people mingled on the grass. One couple however, stood out more than most.
Dressed head to toe in red and white garb, Erickson’s Allan and Eliza Kingdon’s pride was written all over their face.
"I’m Canadian and I love Canada," Allan said. "I’m a veteran from my younger days and I’m proud of our country and we’re not afraid to show it."
"For me, it’s passion and celebrating in fashion, and it’s contagious," Eliza said. "It’s our way of being patriotic and expressing ourselves and it’s fun too."
Allan didn’t skip a beat when asked what makes Canada great?
"Freedom," he said with purpose in his voice.
Through history, Canada Day has come to symbolize the celebration of the nation, something that wouldn’t be possible without the work of the military.
"For a soldier, Canada Day is very special because it is our job to defend and protect what everyone holds sacred in the country" said CFB Base Commander Lt.-Col Richard Goodyear, who was at the Riverbank celebrating with his family.
"Canada Day is obviously extra special for a soldier."
For the first time in three years, the Duck Race took place in the Assiniboine River. The last two Duck Races were cancelled due to high waters.
Bob Kufley from Brandon won the $5,000 top prize, donated by Westoba Credit Union, as his duck crossed the finish line in first place.
Other winners included: Mike McEwan (sunglasses from Total Eye Care); Bill Pratt (Blackberry from MTS Allstream); Linda Bray (mosquito trap from Canadian Tire); Doug McKinnon (gift card from Shoppers Mall); Joan Gradidge (gift card from Canada Safeway); Armando Hernandez (two-night stay at Royal Oak and Suites); George Dowd (one-night stay and dinner at Lakeview Inns and Suites/ Remington’s Seafood and Steakhouse); Bonnie Kinley (camera from Leon’s Furniture Superstore) and Ann Taylor (prize package from Coca-Cola Bottling.)
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 2, 2012