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Canadian Pavilion at Heritage Festival a tale of pride and passion

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  • Darkwalker
    I remember the Canadian Pavilion.

    I also remember that I was amused by the fact that there was a Canadian Pavilion at the Heritage Days Festival.
    I bought a Nanaimo Bar.

    ...And I'd do it again

    Well done.

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  • Thomas Hinderks
    Thank you Alexandra for all your efforts!!!

    I truly appreciate your efforts and passion and would like to meet early in the New Year to see how the Alberta Aviation Museum can work with you and make your 2010 even better.

    Its great to see someone to take the initiative to promote our culture.


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  • Canadian Pavilion at Heritage Festival a tale of pride and passion

    My name is Alexandra Preston, and I love Canada! With the help of my mom and many of my friends, I was able to put together the first Canadian pavilion at the 2009 Servus Heritage Festival. I wanted to share my love of Canada with other Edmontonians because I truly feel that Canada has a culture that should be celebrated!

    All of us have moments in our life that shape us, and ultimately define who we are. I remember one of my moments vividly. I was sitting at the dinner table with my family, half-listening to my sister’s talk about their trials and tribulations in elementary school. At the time I was in grade eight, and we were studying Canadian History. I was eager to voice my frustrations with the curriculum, so during the first lull in conversation I piped up. “We are learning about Canadian History, again... how boring!” I said. My mom, never the one to squelch her convictions and suffer in silence, quickly came to Canada’s defence. “I am a proud Canadian, and I feel privileged to call this country my home. It is important to learn about the history of our country because our Canadian values, our rights, and our freedoms are all a result of the past. We live in an amazing country, and we have so many liberties that a lot of people take for granted...” The more I listened to her, the more I realized how right she was. When I am thirsty I go get clean drinking water from the tap, when my teeth hurt I go to the dentist, when my vision was bad I got glasses, and this list of my personal privileges goes on and on. My mom showed me how much Canada had given me, and from that day on, I felt lucky to be a Canadian.

    As I grew up, my mom and I would have friendly Canadian trivia competitions to see who knew the most about Canada. We would come up with questions to try to stump the other:

    “Who was the first Prime Minister of Canada?” Sir John A. Macdonald
    “What year was the Dominion of Canada created?” 1867
    “When did Alberta become a province of Canada?” September 1, 1905
    “When did we proclaim the current flag of Canada?" February 15, 1965

    The trivia games with my mom made learning about Canadian History fun! My mom and I have always been very close. Every year we would go to Heritage Days in August to take in the sights and sounds of cultures from around the world, and we soon noticed the absence of a Canadian pavilion. After years of feeling like my culture wasn’t being represented at the festival, I decided to start a Canadian pavilion myself. To have a pavilion I needed to make a non-profit organization a year prior to the festival, so I got a small group of my friends together and we made Canadians Aware of Canada Society.

    The objective of Canadians Aware of Canada Society is to create an appreciation for Canadian culture and to promote discussion of what it means to be Canadian. Canada is a vast country with a diverse landscape, and an even more diverse population. As a result of this beautiful diversity, Canadian culture cannot be defined in a few sentences because its definition is dependent upon individual viewpoints. We all have something about Canada that we love; something that makes us stand up tall and proud when we sing the national anthem.

    Planning and running a Canadian pavilion was by no means an easy endeavour. After creating a non-profit society, we started a University of Alberta student group. We had bake sales outside in rain or shine, but we still didn’t have enough money to pay for the pavilion entrance fee and tent rentals. We applied for a Students Union grant, and after weeks of waiting and worrying, I got an email saying that we had received a $2500.00 grant! We were all ecstatic, and we threw ourselves right into planning the pavilion. Without the help of Marlon from The Grocery People who got McCain to donate ten cases of fries, Windsor Plywood, Totem Building Supplies, Victoria Composite School, Salvation Army Grace Manor, and the Sherbrooke Community League, the pavilion would not have been made possible.

    By the beginning of the festival my visa card was maxed out, and I began using my debit card to pay for whatever else was needed. In the art tent we had five artists showcasing their work, and had informational posters outside that my mom and I researched and my friend Brian Drobot designed. The posters displayed facts about Canadian Provinces and Territories and their capital cities, Canadian Inventions, animals of Canada, and Prime Ministers of Canada. In our food tent we served poutine, butter tarts and Nanaimo bars, all of which were invented in Canada! We handed out thousands of flags, pins, and temporary tattoos that were all donated by Celebrate Canada and Heritage Canada. I will never forget my experience at the first Canadian pavilion, and all the people that smiled when they took a flag, or thanked me for the work that I had done.
    Planning and working at the Canadian pavilion was one of the best experiences of my life. Canadians are often too polite to celebrate their country for fear of offending others. We save the celebration for one day a year, Canada Day, and Canadian culture is rarely, if at all, discussed publically. Silence rarely offends people, but it also doesn’t foster awareness of our nation, its history, or its future. It doesn’t matter where you come from, or how long you have been here because we are all Canadian! I wanted to make a pavilion where everyone felt at home because even if you identify with another culture, you can also identify with being Canadian. If you would like to help plan the Second Annual Canadian pavilion please do not hesitate to email me at [email protected] or visit our website at I look forward to working with you!

    -- Alexandra Preston