With the easing of all COVID-19 health restrictions as of July 1, Airdrie residents can celebrate Canada Day in myriad ways this week. Whether it’s participating in Airdrie Parades’ second annual house-decorating contest, going to the Airdrie legion’s barbecue or checking out the evening fireworks display at Chinook Winds Regional Park, there are plenty of options to mark our nation’s birthday in 2021.
A few months ago, when Alberta’s COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations were the highest they had ever been, the first paragraph of this editorial would have seemed impossible to believe. It is thanks to the efforts of the medical community and the work that has gone into the COVID-19 vaccination rollout that we are able to celebrate Canada Day with friends, family and community members this year.
Some people will choose not to celebrate Canada Day this year. In light of the recent discovery of more than 1,000 unmarked graves found at the sites of former residential schools, there has been a call out to take this July 1 as a day to reflect on one of the biggest blights in Canada’s history, rather than a moment of festivity. Rallies put on by advocacy group Idle No More in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have been organized to show solidarity with Canada’s Indigenous population, and to bring to light the grief many people are still feeling.
As an admittedly all-white newsroom, we do not wish to tell people how they should think about Canada Day. For many, the date is a reason to celebrate living in a country that boasts fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of religion, association, mobility and expression – not to mention universal health care. But one cannot deny Canada has its ongoing problems with systemic racism, and that there is a need for reconciliation.
There's nothing wrong with bringing that to attention this Canada Day, while still acknowledging we live in a great country.