We’re proud of our heritage in Nanaimo. So there’s every reason why Heritage Days can be a source of pride here.
The Victoria Day long weekend used to be Empire Days in Nanaimo. In 2015, the festivities necessarily changed with the times to become Heritage Days, thought to be a more inclusive occasion to celebrate.
The reasoning was sound, but it’s fair to say that the new festival hasn’t yet been wholly embraced by the community. It’s understandable – Empire Days, for better or for worse, had a raison d’être, whereas Heritage Days’ meaning has always been a little more open to interpretation.
As we’ve argued before, that doesn’t have to be a weakness. It means the organizers, the downtown merchants and the community can have fun with the theme and bend it to their own designs.
We can play up our past as pirates on the Strait of Georgia, whether sharing the history of the Flying Dutchman or celebrating the enthusiasm of late Mayor Frank Ney.
Nanaimo has a lot of true, fascinating history that can be embraced. It happened in our little corner of the British Empire, sure, and at the same time in Snuneymuxw territory, and in the coal mines, and anywhere history happens, which is to say, everywhere.
Heritage Days organizers say this year’s parade, set for Sunday (May 21), will be more true to the theme. It will be interesting to see how that translates to parade-float form, this year and hopefully in coming years too as groups try to one-up each other and previous efforts.
However we choose to define it, we hope people will come out for Heritage Days. Certain festivals and gatherings and fundraisers fall in and out of fashion, and if this one is important, then let’s support it.
How did we come to be here, on this Island in the Pacific? Are we glad to be here? If so, then let’s head downtown on Sunday and be glad to be here, together.