Canada marks its 150th birthday this year, which means everyone, including Sooke, is kicking up the celebrations up a notch or two in 2017.
It’s not an effort of one or two people, but a coordinated mission by several nonprofit groups throughout Sooke that are more than a year in the making.
Not that there’s any doubt that Sooke won’t get it all done before Canada’s 150th birthday in July, said Elida Peers, a coordinator with Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society and a lead hand in organizing the commemorative events.
“I have full confidence, that the municipality, the region and the organizations of Sooke will work together fairly well for doing the best for our community,” she said, adding the last time Sooke celebrated with the rest of Canada to such a large scale was in 1992, when the nation reached 125 years.
Many pieces of the red and white and red puzzle have already fallen into place.
In March, T’Sou-ke First Nation wood carver Harvey George will be in Sooke to entertain everyone with tales of the town’s early fishing days and show off his intricately carved fish boat models at the Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre.
Spring will also be the time when the new street banners will hit Sooke roadways, featuring four unique salmon-themed designs created by Sooke artists.
Come June, Holy Trinity Anglican church will erect its historic church bell, displaced from the fire that took down the original church in 2005. The church plans to raise funds for this event by hosting a special dinner in February.
You may wonder, though, what kind of party is it if there’s no entertainment? Well, that end is covered too, as the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra and Sooke Community Choir are among those performing, though exact dates are still coming together.
Much work remains to be done, however, and Peers highlighted the importance of volunteers and nonprofit organizations coming together in Sooke to grow and expand local celebrations of Canada’s 150th, which includes the need for a new town crier.
“It’s time to get the word out,” Peer said.
Sooke Mayor Maja Tait hopes the celebrations and events will not only represent Canadian heritage, but most importantly, Sooke’s heritage.
“In an ideal world, you wanna see elements of Sooke’s history captured in some way and what the future looks like as well,” Tait said, adding the new banners is a good step forward in that direction.
The Sooke Chamber of Commerce had plans for a salmon festival for Canada 150, but that got cancelled.
Still, Tait hopes the event will be held in some shape or form, as it is one of Sooke’s oldest and most sacred of festive traditions.
“Many have spoken of a salmon festival in Sooke and we look forward to a special focus on salmon this year, especially as the fish head toward their home rivers to spawn in October,” Peers said.
Anyone interested in taking part in organizing and preparing the collective celebrations of local groups, organizations for Canada’s 150th, please call 250-642-4200.