Celebrating 150 years

Mayor Greg Dionne, Multicultural Council executive director Shayne Lazarowich and P.A. Legion representative Marie Mathers announce the city's Canada Day plans in Kinsmen Park on June 1. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Prince Albert’s Canada Day celebrations for the 150th birthday of this country will be one of the city’s largest ever.

This year’s celebrations, put on by the Prince Albert Multicultural Council, Prince Albert Legion and the city, will take place over two days, featuring more entertainment and two days of fireworks.

The festivities will kick off Friday night at 5 p.m. at the Kinette Amphitheatre with performances by Laura Lee McFarlane and Black Rain. There will be presentations by the city to officially open the newly- renovated Kinsmen Park, followed by performances by All Mighty Voice and Bombargo. Then, at dusk, the city will set off fireworks at the soccer pitch.

The celebration will continue the following day, July 1, at noon, with the official Canada Day opening ceremonies and colour party. Entertainers will hit the stage again at 12:30 p.m.

Saturday’s lineup includes Ryan and Bob Spracklin, the Admunson Family, The Hart Family, Goodfella’s Rewind, the Bushpies and Soulfather, capped off by a second fireworks show.

Meanwhile, in the new Shaw Kids Area on the east side of the park, Disney Princesses, Super Ron the magician and the Thundering Sky Dancers will perform, while jugglers, stilt walkers and a unicyclist wander the kids area.

There will be several food vendors on site, as well as face painting and balloon twisting.

The event is free, except for some of the vendors and other services, but there is no admission fee to see any of the performances.

“We’re looking forward for this year, and this is just great,” said Marie Mathers of the P.A. Legion. “There has been a lot of work. Come and enjoy yourself. Come as you are, come and eat, listen to the music.”

The work planning the two-day festival has been going on for months, and between grants and in-kind donations, the celebrations are expected to cost more than $40,000.

“Shayne (Lazarowich, executive director of the Multicultural council) has done Yeoman’s work here in lining up two days of entertainment,” said Bob Vance of the city.

“The multicultural council should be congratulated for what they do for Canada Day, and this year we’re excited to have a two-day event.

Lazarowich explained why they wanted to host a larger event than what has been put on in years past.

“One of the reasons we decided to … have a two-day event is to make it a little larger, because it is Canada Day 150,” he said.

“People celebrate Canada in very different ways, so we’ve tried to line up something that’s very inclusive, and gives everybody an opportunity to respectfully celebrate or recognize 150 years of our country.”

Another new element for the 2017 celebration is the inclusion of a reconciliation ceremony At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Prince Albert Grand Council will lead a reconciliation ceremony.

“We’ll take an hour break from some of the other entertainment and do a very respectful and positive reconciliation ceremony here,” Lazarowich said. “That’s exciting as well. We really hope everyone can make it for that.”

Mayor Greg Dionne was also pleased with the inclusion of the reconciliation ceremony.

‘That’s very important because we’re moving forward,” he said.

“That was a part of some of the recommendations that came out of (the commission). They’re a big part of our community. It fits right in and it should come on Canada’s birthday.”

According to Lazarowich, that ceremony will include guest speakers, including veterans, and drumming.

“I think it’s important to start recognizing (the truth and reconciliation commission recommendations at) all levels of government. It’s a very small gesture perhaps, but it’s something we’ve never done before and I look forward to it.”

The celebration isn’t just for Canada’s birthday. It’s also to mark the reopening of Kinsmen park after more than $500,000 in renovations. This year’s project includes rebuilding the amphitheatre, repaved pathways and park furniture. That’s on top of the new and renovated bathrooms and playground completed last year. It’s fitting, Dionne said, that it will be celebrated on Canada Day, as half of the money came from the federal government.

“It’s a good partnership. We’re spending Canada money. It’s a great event, and it has great timing, and it’s a great time to kick (the park) of.

Dionne got a look at some of the changes made to the park, and was quite excited by how interactive it was.

“If you can tell, we are enjoying the playground,” he remarked, after experimenting with some of the equipment and exclaiming “wheee” as he slid down the slide.

“I found a new digger. It’s like, ‘where’s the mayor at one o’clock in the morning?’ he’s digging a trench. He’s doing his job.”

Mayor Greg Dionne was enthralled with the digging equipment at the new Kinsmen Park playground on June 1. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Dionne laughed.

“It’s an interactive park, which is really good too.”