While visitors sat and enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs, pizza and gelato at the weekend’s Festa Italiana, they reflected on what it meant to be a Canadian and what Canada Day meant to them, whether a native Canadian or immigrant.
Anita Bressanutti moved to Canada nearly 75 years ago from Italy when she was just 10 years old. Arriving in a new country was a scary thing at first for her, but she found her stride very quickly.
“When I got here, it was a little bit traumatic, but everybody was kind, helpful and in just a few weeks I discovered I could speak English,” she said, adding she extended the same helping hand to those that came to Canada from Italy after her. “I have to say, I have never been discriminated against throughout my schooling and after when I went to work at the bank, it was good that I knew Italian, so I could be helpful to people that came over.”
Born in Italy, Bressanutti appreciates her heritage, but also celebrates Canada as her home.
“As far as Canada goes, it doesn’t matter where you were born,” she said. “I have a lot of relatives [in Italy] I keep in touch with and it’s a beautiful country, but I came to another beautiful country. I wouldn’t even think about going back there to live. I am Canadian now.”
For Eileen Peterson, Canada Day was a time to reflect on the sacrifices and hardships her predecessors had to go through when they first arrived in this vast country.
“For me, there is a sense of celebration of [the immigrants] and the tough times [they went through] to make it easier here for me,” she said. “I didn’t have to face wars, I didn’t have to be a refugee and cross the ocean, I didn’t have to work for $16 a month on a farm. For me, that is what I honour.”
Festa Italiana committee and SD20 School Board member, Toni Driutti, says Canada Day makes her think of the freedoms she enjoys.
“Canada has been really good to me,” she said. “We have a great country. It is a country that accepts everyone and the fact that we can celebrate like this here [at the Festa] and we’re so free. We can do what we please. We have great work ethic here and while we have rules, it is still democratic and we’re polite.”
Driutti says she sees people not appreciating what they have in Canada and it is time for people to take a look around.
“We really need to think about how blessed we are with what we have,” she said. “I don’t think a lot of people get it. They take it for granted.”
Canada’s 147th birthday was celebrated locally with a party at Beaver Creek Park. Birthday cake was cut and passed around, live music, displays from community groups, breakfast and lunch and ended with a fireworks display at Gyro Park. Warfield Pool also served up some cake on Tuesday afternoon with activities for kids to escape the heat.