PHOTOS — Red Deer celebrates diversity on Canada Day

Nothing says diversity quite like a bevy of food booths serving up tasty eats from around the world.

Nothing says diversity quite like a bevy of food booths serving up tasty eats from around the world.

On Canada Day, many Red Deerians celebrated Canada’s 146 birthday by making a beeline to the ethnic food court that boasted cuisine from countries like Sweden, India, and The Philippines.

Others headed straight to the performance stage to secure a good spot to take in the day’s multi-cultural entertainers.

And they all had one thing in common – love for Canada’s vast landscapes, diversity and safety.

“When I visit elsewhere I appreciate coming back to Canada,” said Irene Bessette. “We seem so organized … We are multi-cultural and that makes it beautiful.”

Bessette said many people around the world want to live in Canada for those reasons.

Draped in a Canadian flag, Geoffrey Soita, originally from Kenya took in his first Canada Day festivities in Alberta. Soita moved to Red Deer from Ottawa to work in the oilfield in January.

Soita said his love for Canada runs deep.

“I love just about everything ­— the freedom,” said Soita. “One of the first things I experienced when I came over here was the ability to walk at anytime at night or day without anyone bothering you and without being robbed or mobbed or whatever.”

Doug Janssen said the best thing about Canada is “all the people who have chosen Canada as their home and the cultural diversity that we all enjoy.”

Wife Linda added, “It’s beautiful with a real variety from everything that environment, peoples, culture and plants.”

Red Deer RCMP Cpl. Dean Grunow celebrated his Canada Day on bike patrol duty at the centre. Grunow said there’s a whole lot to love about Canada including its vastness, diversity and freedom.

“Everybody is here for a good reason,” said Grunow. “We’re here to be happy and to celebrate. It makes our job easy because most of what we deal with is people out having fun and celebrating.”

Volunteer Sid Selirio came to Canada in the 1960s from The Philippines. Selirio has not regretted leaving his native country.

“It’s a good decision for us because we raised our two daughters here,” said Selirio. “There is a lot of opportunity here. One thing I notice here is the peace and order. You can do almost anything without no fear.”

The city’s celebrations are usually held at Bower Ponds but recent flooding damage put a damper on the plans so the Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society moved the daytime activities to the Collicutt Centre and the fireworks to the Westerner. Signs were posted at Bower Ponds noting the change in venue.

Carroll Borg, president of the society, said despite the change in venue, residents came to show their patriotism and celebrate Canada. She estimated between 3,000 to 4,000 people had flocked to the centre by early afternoon. She expected the crowds to grow throughout the day.

“I don’t know if there’s as many as previous years,” said Borg. “I hope everybody heard about it because there was some advertising that it was at Bower Ponds. We tried to get the word out to everybody so I hope it did get out and people managed to arrive here.”

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said he felt the society pulled off another Canada Day event for the city. Flewwelling said he loves Canada because of the respect Canadians are given on the national stage. Flewwelling referred to his Order of Canada which he received in 1997.

“The motto of the Order of Canada is they desire a better country,” said Flewwelling. “This really leads Canadians to take their country seriously and to try and build a better country.”

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