One may be excused if certain key dates elude them as we enter 2017.
Our society may be too wrapped up in daily life to view the year with hope, celebration, remembrance and reflection, but those sentiments have real meaning this year.
Canada officially turns 150 years old on July 1, 2017. What events will coincide with this special birthday for a still young country is not widely known, but the town of Westville appears ready to invite people to mark the year appropriately.
Mayor Roger MacKay noted that the first Canada Day parade was held in the town on July 1, 1907. There will be one this year, but MacKay stressed how the town wants to celebrate the country’s birthday throughout the year with events that include a winter carnival, Canada Day kids festival and a multicultural festival.
Many opportunities are there for various communities and provinces to celebrate Confederation. Four provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario – originally comprised Canada. The others joined over time, but those four have a duty and opportunity to make their celebrations special this year.
There are other dates to remember. One of them is the 100th anniversary of Canada’s participation in the First World War Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Local groups will present the Pipes of War in Pictou in April, around the time the battle took place in 1917. It will help cap an event whose profile has been raised up as a celebration of our nationhood, much like the battles associated with the War of 1812 that were celebrated several years ago.
The Russian Revolution also took place 100 years ago, and more recent events suggest the country has turned full circle. Glasnost and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall are vanishing from our memories. More barriers are replacing previous ones. Pro-tectionism is affecting free trade and democracy at the same time.
It was 50 years ago, in 1967, when Expo 67 in Montreal helped Canada celebrate its centennial. People who were there will have felt optimism of a kind that is difficult to appreciate today. Uncertainty sometimes clouds what we have achieved since then.
For some people, it will be hard to remember and for others it will be impossible to forget Westray. The 25th anniversary of the coal mine disaster will be on May 9.
Another date later this year will be observed: the Halifax explosion on December 6, 1917.
Westray strikes all too close to home, the Halifax explosion somewhat less so. Both events compelled Pictou County residents to respond which – history records – they did admirably.
A new year unleashes joy, sadness, hope and doubt. It follows that we who have the means need to ensure that everyone experiences the best of 2017.