Families are scheduled to gather along Franklin Avenue Friday morning for the return of the Canada Day Parade at 11 a.m., organized by The Rotary Club of Yellowknife.
This is the first parade since 2019, following a hiatus necessitated by public health measures related to the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, which shut down or slowed down many community activities in 2020. The parade was not held last year, either, as Rotary members recognized the initial period of mourning following the discovery of the first wave of long-suspected residential school student grave sites in B.C.
“The parade in 2020 had to be cancelled due to gathering limits surrounding the pandemic and last year, we stood with our Indigenous neighbours, who were grieving after the discovery of 215 graves of children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School,” said Austin Marshall, parade committee chair. “The parade is held on Canada Day, yes, but it can be more than just a birthday party for our country as it has historically been considered. The mission of Rotary International is, in part, to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace. So, we hope we can celebrate all members of our community as we celebrate our community in the spirit of reconciliation.”
There’s no same-old, same-old on the schedule this year. Just about everything related to the parade has changed a bit after the two-year absence, including the anticipated debut of many first-time float entrants on Friday morning.
Organizers expect more than 50 participating organizations and businesses, according to James O’Connor, the club’s director of public relations.
The Children’s Bicycle Decorating Contest, a patriotic pre-parade party held an hour before the floats and marchers set in motion, is slated to fill the green space between the RCMP headquarters and the Joint Task Force North buildings on 49 Avenue/Veteran’s Memorial Drive.
Pre-teens are encouraged to bedeck their bicycles and themselves with colour and creativity. Rotary volunteers have amassed a collection of mini-flags, balloons, streamers and other whimsical artifacts for any last-minute contestants who show up at 10 a.m. bereft of bike bling.
After the pre-parade bicycle contest, which features quite a few early-bird prizes, all participants and their accompanying adult pedestrians will be invited to find a spot in the parade line up and to ring their bicycle bells along the parade route, or along any portion thereof.
At the head of the parade, viewers will see a first-time foot-race dubbed The Canada Day Mile by organizers with the Yellowknife Running Group.
The most important change to this year’s parade is the direction it will follow. The parade will start in front of city hall, just adjacent to the earlier bike contest down the street. The parade will move down 48 Street and then head southwest along Franklin Avenue to the community arena parking lot, where the spectacle will wrap up.
Officers from the Municipal Enforcement Division (MED) will control traffic at key intersections. MED will have an escort vehicle at the start of the Canada Day Mile race and the RCMP will follow at the end of the parade, signaling that the event is over. RCMP members on bicycles will also patrol along the route.
Intersections along the route will be blocked off and monitored by Rotary volunteers in high-visibility vests starting at 10:30 a.m. downtown and 10:45 a.m. toward Forrest Drive.