I arrived on the 30th and after going to bed early, I woke up fresh early in the morning of July 1. I was jet-lagged, 8 hours ahead of Edmonton, and pulling my boyfriend out of bed I jumped around eager to jump-start my first day in Canada, and my first ever Canada Day. Unlike any other day in Canada, the 1st of July is a day of celebration and joy, cultural and family-oriented events, music and play. It is regarded as Canada’s birthday!
Starting the day, we took the bus Downtown. Placing ourselves at the secluded seats at the end of the bus, we happened upon a somewhat desperate man. Not long after we had taken our seats did he engage us in conversation, telling us of what a terrible night he had had, being attacked and having his possessions stolen. As we got off the bus, we offered the man a coffee and some coins for calling and thrilled by the prospect of a hot coffee, he started long tails of how he would repay by buying us all kind of stuff with his huge stack of money. After polite chatters and as the clock was nearing 7.30 AM, we parted ways and my boyfriend and I headed towards the legislature building, which was promising to be the main place for Canada Day events.
The first planned event was also what I had been most excited about and the reason for my boyfriends abrupt wakening the same morning. A local Muslim community was baking pancakes for the public, treating everyone to a free breakfast. Now for some reason, the image of American pancakes with lots and lots of maple syrup is central to any perception of Canada I have ever held, and the idea of being served pancakes on my very first day made me ecstatic. After an hour of pancakes, maple syrup and enjoying the chatter of the many Edmontians stopping by, I was content. With a red maple leave on my cheek, several pins on my clothes and two flags in my Fjällräven backpack, I felt as having integrated into Canadian society over night.
Everyone was so friendly and chit-chatting was heard from all corners. Unlike any place I have ever been, there is an easygoing vibe in Canada, where people on the street joke and laugh with each other. Though I have only been here for a few days it is impossible for me not to think of the Canadians as some of the most friendly people I have met. I was almost glad when I came across a bad-mannered bus driver at the end of Canada Day, thinking that it almost seemed too much that people were so friendly towards each other.
But before encountering the bus driver, we enjoyed a few hours of watching Ukrainian and native dances. Edmonton was founded mainly by Ukrainians and as it seems with most diaspora the Edmontian Ukrainians are proud of their heritage. The Ukrainian folk dancing was thrilling and marvellously performed. I can not imagine that many young Ukrainians join the world of folk dancing and it pleases me to know that such traditions are kept alive in the diaspora scattered around the world.
As the major events at the grounds of the legislature building were over, we crossed the North Saskatchewan River and spent the rest of the day strolling up Whyte Avenue in the Old Strathcona district. The street is old in Canadian terms and many of the houses are build in the prairie style with fake facades showing