This month, as we contemplate a new year and all the changes and adventures that may represent, let’s look ahead a little further – to July 1, 2017.
Why July 1, 2017? Because that will be Canada’s 150 birthday, and certainly a day to celebrate! Looking back 50 years, Canada’s Centennial was anticipated with much happiness, and hundreds of projects, large and small, by individuals and by large organizations. Canadians always seem to enjoy a party and why would this event be any different?
Going back to 1967 – what did you do? Some Canadian couples had a baby in centennial year, and he/she was their project. Throughout British Columbia many Women’s Institutes planted Almey crab apple trees – a flowering tree of great beauty, some of which continue to grace our towns and cities and add to spring’s flourish of blossoms and splendor – an ongoing tribute to past achievements. There were numerous local projects as well. The Centennial Committee of British Columbia promoted a Centennial Quilt Competition and of the seventy-six quilts entered, over half came from Women’s Institutes. While we did not win the competition, we received two Honourable Mentions, and one other WI quilt went on to represent us at the Associated Country Women of the World 1968 Convention in Lansing, Michigan.
Canada’s version of the ‘Liberty Bell’, the ship’s bell from the S.S. Queen Victoria will return, on loan, to Canada and be displayed in the national capital region starting in November 2014. The S. S. Queen Victoria was the ship that ferried the Fathers of Confederation to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864 and sank two years later off the American east coast. For their efforts in rescuing 41 members of the ship’s crew, the bell, one of the few artifacts salvaged from the ship, was presented to the skipper of the ship Ponvert whose crew members saved the 41 Canadians from the sea. The skipper of the American ship later presented the bell to the Gouldsboro District School Board, in Maine, and the bell has been housed there ever since.
So, now is the time for the Women’s Institutes throughout Canada to look ahead and start planning their events, projects and celebrations for this milestone in our country’s development. Here in British Columbia, this celebration will fall into our Triennial Convention year — perhaps our event could relate to the Canadian sesquicentennial? How? In the competitions? The theme of the Convention? The speakers attending?
But closer to home, what will your Branch/District do to mark this historical event? Is there the potential for a project that could benefit your community? Some one, or something in the history of your area that should be acknowledged or commemorated?
There have been some challenges set out by the Canadian Government to Canadians to augment the historical records from our past, to reflect the contributions of earlier citizens – perhaps you or your group will accept that call to flesh out Canadian history. Perhaps you will look into your own history, which is part of the fabric of the Canadian story, and learn more about your own ancestors and the role they played in the earlier years of our country.
The goals, as set out by Canada 150 include:
- to retain our wealth of oral, written and visual history for generations to come in repositories available to everyone worldwide
- to provide a family legacy for generations to come
- to improve understanding within families and communities through the mutual exchange of stories to enhance Canadian unity through a sense of national pride and a more profound celebration of the contributions of Canadians from diverse backgrounds
Whatever you or your group may choose to do, whatever your Districts or the Provincial Officers may implement on your behalf, this is a very important achievement for our country, and we should all be out there celebrating and adding to our national history and pride. But don’t leave it all for someone else to start – put your thinking caps on and come up with some ideas of your own: some of the best projects start as a fleeting thought in one member’s mind – when shared with other WI members it grows into a fabulous project that brings people together, benefits a community, and could leave a lasting legacy for future Canadians.
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