By James Rose
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

How do you celebrate Canada Day? Do you follow certain traditions? An evening campfire with friends and family? A day spent outdoors enjoying nature? Or do you usually find yourself working on our nation’s big day?

Most years, I enjoy taking in the Canada Day parade and fireworks. It feels good to wear red and white, wave a flag, immerse myself in pride for our nation and the good it stands for. What does it mean to be Canadian? Everyone has their way of answering that question. Said former prime minister John Diefenbaker: “I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those you shall govern, country.” Well said, John.

This year, however, is going to be different without a parade or fireworks. The district of Invermere’s fireworks show has been postponed to the fall, and the parade won’t return until next summer, fingers crossed.

In lieu of this tradition, I’ll be doing something different this year. Maybe a hike. I recall on one Canada Day, a friend and I climbed our way to the top of Chisel Peak. There we sat on the top of the mountain, feeling like we were on top of the world.

Or maybe I’ll do something creative. Paint a picture, play some music, write a story. Speaking of painting, Black Star Studios is putting together free painting kits for kids to celebrate Canada Day this year. “Come down June 30 or July 1 to grab your child a kit,” Jen Abra said. “Each kit has a mini-canvas, paints and paintbrushes.”

Do you have any special Canada Day memories? “I’ll never forget when I was volunteering at the Ivy house,” said Grace Lamson. “And we did the parade with the residents on their wheelchairs while I walked beside them. It was very hot that day, but it was fun!”

But I’m open to ideas. “We’re heading over to Nakusp this year to ride mountain bikes and relax,” said Haru Watanabe, “In years past, I used to be a member of the fire department, so I was driving the fire truck or attending the parade, and then after I’d go to Kinsman beach to spend most of the day there.” Mountain biking and beach time, sign me up.

“I try to keep it consistent around these words,” said Yan Thérien. “Friends, family, live lobster, music, locally crafted beer, bonfire and fireworks.” Yan, you’re onto something!

We’re lucky to live in a country, province, region, valley, town where we have so many great ways to spend a day celebrating Canada. So however you plan to celebrate our nation’s birthday, I hope you enjoy it.