After two years on hiatus, Canada Day events returned with enthusiasm on Friday.
The hot, sweltering sun of the afternoon was barely a damper on spirits, as Regina folks arrived in droves to attend the first Canada Day festivities in the city since 2019.
Thousands gathered at Government House, sprawling across the extensive lawn and gardens on the property. Some filtered in and out of the museum portion of the buildings, exploring the exhibits and indoor displays. Others settled comfortably in the abundant shade of the many trees that line the walking paths.
“There’s just a really wonderful energy here today,” said executive director Carolyn Speirs.
She estimated that this year’s event had the largest turnout in recent memory, surpassing even the biggest years that recorded three or four thousand visitors.
“It’s already exceeded our expectations,” Speirs said about an hour into the afternoon.
It also marks the first time Lt.-Gov. Russ Mirasty has hosted the celebration, as events have been cancelled since he was appointed late in July in 2019.
Crowds gathered all afternoon to cheer on the ever-popular amateur trick dogs as they raced through obstacles and, for the first time, visit the new Saskatchewan Residential School Memorial on the west corner of the lawns.
People sat quietly on the benches that circle the central stone of the memorial, taking in the space meant for reflection and recognition of the experience of Indigenous people in Saskatchewan’s near past.
“That’s a triumph, that people are expanding what Canada Day means,” said Speirs.
Embracing multiculturalism in this year’s schedule was a point of pride, she added. The main stage welcomed groups of Chinese lion dancers, powwow dancers, Métis jiggers and Ukrainian folk ballet dancers, highlighting some of the many cultures that call Saskatchewan home.
Métis Saskatchewan also hosted a craft booth for the kids, teaching weaving techniques, as an excited partner in the event.
“There really is an openness from people here, to learn about other things, and that’s been positive,” said Speirs.
Down on the shores of Wascana Lake, in the shadow of the Legislative Building, the feeling was much the same. Hundreds milled about the green space, staking claim to the shadiest spots to enjoy food, vendors and entertainment.
Interspersed through the crowds of vibrant, Canada Day red shirts and flags, were plenty of orange shirts, worn in honour of the children lost to residential schools in Canada and the U.S.
There was no lack of energy over in Buffalo Meadows Park either, as folks gathered for the second annual Buffalo Day, a celebration of Indigenous culture that spent the afternoon enjoying a traditional powwow in the park.
All in all, Friday concluded with the return of the Canada Day fireworks display, bursting over Wascana Lake for the first time in two years.
The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Regina Leader-Post has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.