For many in Greater Victoria, Canada Day celebrations traditionally involve heading down for a picnic at the Gorge Waterway, taking part in the living flag outside the legislature or catching the fireworks show at the Inner Harbour – each event drawing large crowds dressed in red and white. However, celebrations in 2020 will look quite different as large gatherings are not permitted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those marking the nation’s 153rd birthday will have to find other ways to celebrate closer to home and the District of Saanich is suggesting 10 safe ways to get into the Canada Day spirit.
1. Deck out your deck. Hang a Canadian flag or two off your balcony, out your window or in front of your business. Lights, streamers and colourful garlands will also do the trick.
“You might inspire your neighbours to do the same,” said Saanich community arts specialist Brenda Weatherston.
2. Show your colours. There may not be a sea of red and white outside the legislature this year but there could be one all across the region, Weatherston said. Get dressed up in red and white clothing no matter where you’re celebrating this year to get in the spirit of the holiday.
3. Chalk your walk. Grab some sidewalk chalk and cover your driveway or walkway with Canada-themed art and some kind messages.
4. Make a mini-parade. Those sorely missing the Gorge Canada Day Bike Parade can opt to create their own. Weatherston suggests adding decorations to bikes, scooters or even vehicles, planning a safe route and heading out for a ride to spread some cheer. Paraders are reminded to practise social distancing and adhere to safety regulations to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
5. Get outside. While outdoor celebrations that draw big crowds have been cancelled, there’s nothing stopping residents from heading out to enjoy the natural beauty of Canada. Plan a hike or picnic in one of the region’s many parks while following safety regulations. Weatherston added that with more than 170 parks in Saanich alone, there’s no shortage of space to spend time outside safely.
6. Spread some joy. Instead of getting together for large gatherings with friends and extended family, surprise them by dropping off some Canada-themed goodies or snacks – to “lift the spirits of those who are isolated,” Weatherston said.
7. Try some festive foods. Plan a backyard cookout with family or support local businesses by ordering take-out. Weatherston recommended adding some “Canadian fare” to the meal such as poutine, bannock or even a red and white sundae – ice cream with local strawberries on top.
8. Drop a patriotic beat. “While large concerts skip a beat this year, you don’t have to,” Weatherston said. Typically, Canadian musicians are invited to play in various locations throughout the region but, due to COVID-19, concerts will have to be small-scale for 2020. Friends can collaborate virtually to create playlists filled with songs by Canadian artists, neighbours can hire local musicians to play social-distanced driveway concerts or residents can tune-in to one of many Canada Day broadcasts. A national Canada Day Daytime Show hosted by Serena Ryder and Pierre-Yves Lord will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. on July 1. Later that night, the Evening Show will begin and from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., Canadians can tune-in to the celebratory show from the comfort of their homes. The City of Victoria’s virtual Canada Day broadcast begins at 7 p.m. For more information visit canadadayvictoria.ca.
9. Raise your voice. Join in for a region-wide “O Canada” sing-along at 7 p.m. “Sing your heart out … as part of your regular shout-out to health care workers,” Weatherston said. Pots, pans, noise-makers and instruments are welcome.
10. Light up the night. There may be no live fireworks shows planned this year but Greater Victoria residents are encouraged to brighten their streets and backyards with colourful lights and lanterns or watch some fireworks online. For example, the City of Surrey is hosting an online Canada Day event with a virtual fireworks finale. Learn more at surrey.ca.
How will you be spending this close-to-home Canada Day? The District of Saanich is asking residents to share their photos on social media and enter to win a prize. Tag @saanich and @saanichparksrec and use the hashtags #saanich #canadaday to enter.