By ALI RAZA, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
COVID-19 won’t stop East Yorkers from (safely) celebrating Canada Day on July 1.
The East York Toronto Canada Day Festival enters its 63rd year, but not without some changes to adjust to COVID-19 precautions. The parade, fireworks and community festival have been cancelled for this year, but will return in 2021.
“Canada Day has always been a very big deal in East York,” Rick Mercer said in a special video on the festival website. “And has been since 1957, it’s Toronto’s longest-running Canada Day festival and nothing, not even a global pandemic, is going to change that.”
Festival chair Kathy Johnson says despite the parade cancellation, the celebration is still on.
That’s why this year’s celebration is called Canada Day 2020 @Home in East York. For the month leading up to Canada Day, East Yorkers are invited to participate in a number of challenges and activities as residents prepare their own at-home celebrations to share with one another.
“People get the safe and responsible decision to do something different,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a number of initiatives set up and thought about in terms of how can we support people to have celebrations at home.”
Those initiatives include weekly challenges for the month of June, themed games and activities, a scavenger hunt, neighbourhood dinners, and more.
As it enters its 63rd year, Johnson reflects on how significant the festival is for the community.
“It’s about a celebration, the community coming together, multi-generational,” she said. “We want to capture that and have that same feeling, this community has done an amazing job coming together and supporting each other.”
On Canada Day, residents can participate in games, word searches, a scavenger hunt, and other activities designed to be complaint with physical distancing guidelines. Residents are also invited to have their Canada Day dinners on their balcony or driveway to create a “neighbourhood dinner.”
A unique addition for this year, residents can purchase a Canada Day-themed face mask. All proceeds of masks will be donated to the Red Door Family Shelter and local food banks via Community Centre 55.
Face masks are $10 each, and can be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
There are three weekly challenges leading up to July 1. The first week (June 9) included a challenge asking residents to send in a video of the household singing “O Canada.” The second week’s challenge entitled My Canada & Me asks residents to send a video sharing what Canada Day means to their family. The third and final week’s challenge asks residents to share their Canada Day decorations.
All weekly challenges require participants to send in their video submission at https://eycdc.ca/weekly-challenges/
Top submissions will be compiled and released in a video for Canada Day.
For more information Canada Day 2020 @Home in East York, visit https://eycdc.ca/
- Ali Raza is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.