Editorial: Heritage Days belong to us all

There will be something new in Nanaimo on Saturday and Sunday (May 16-17) as Heritage Days replace Empire Days.

Hopefully this Victoria Day long weekend will be just the same, only better.

There will be something new in Nanaimo on Saturday and Sunday (May 16-17) as Heritage Days replace Empire Days.

Various members of the community had asked for the name change, and it was overdue in a modern, multicultural city. Finally this year there was the political will to force the change, then the corporate support to follow through.

Just like years past, there will be a street festival and fireworks downtown on Saturday and a parade on Sunday – what’s different is the theme of the event, and that’s one of the most interesting aspects of what’s to come this weekend. Regardless of whether we liked the idea of celebrating British rule and the connotations of the Empire, we enjoyed having a Queen Victoria look-alike daintily waving at us as she paraded downtown in a vintage English automobile. The heritage theme, on the other hand, is open to interpretation. It’s more inclusive, which is a positive, but then again it is somewhat undefined and directionless – are we really going to celebrate our heritage, or are we just going to party because it’s the long weekend?

We hope the whole community will support Heritage Days. It’s important that the inaugural event draws participation and creates enthusiasm and momentum, not only for tourism and business downtown, but also for community spirit. We hope that those who liked Empire Days just fine the way they were will give Heritage Days a chance and see that they’re not quite the same, and maybe that’s OK.

This weekend is a chance to get together and have a party and fireworks and a parade, but it’s more than that, too. This first, undefined Heritage Days is our chance to start defining what this event is, and what it will be in the years to come. And we all get a say, because these days belong to all of us now.