UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Photo by Carolyn Pogue

A riverside celebration and a royal parade 

Smaller communities have that special something

By Carolyn Pogue

We drove from Calgary to High Level, Alta., and then on to Fort Smith, the garden capital of the Northwest Territories. We drove through prairie, farmland, forest and finally, through the tip of one of Canada’s treasures, Wood Buffalo National Park.

Fort Smith (also called Thebacha, meaning “beside the rapids” in Chipewyan) borders the park. The town has a friendly population of 2,400. There, we encountered sunshine, home cooked buffalo steak, concern about forest fires and a riverside event.

Students from Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., and the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, were studying fish and water in the Slave River. They worked at the riverside in collaboration with local residents, citizens from northern Alberta, the NWT government and the Water Resources Division of the federal government. While students dissected fish, kids played in the water, families enjoyed a barbeque and fishers cast nets and lines. The day felt festive. Beneath the surface, though, this was also about education and action; there is growing alarm here about the health and safety of water flowing from areas of industrial development, such as the Alberta oil sands.

From there, we drove west and north, spotting black bear and Sand Hill Cranes en route. We crossed the Dehcho (Mackenzie) River by ferry, drove through herds of bison and between smoky forest fires that had crossed the highway. At the end of the day, we arrived in Yellowknife, the city that hugs the north shore of Great Slave Lake.

On July 1, like millions of Canadians, we cheered marching bands, RCMP in red serge, decorated bicycles, and members of francophone, soccer and swim clubs. We enjoyed the Yellowknives Dene drummers and a flatbed truck carrying northern stuffed animals, including a grizzly bear. The seven horses were popular; they are newcomers to this northern capital. The Filipino-Canadian floats were highlights, their dancers thrilling. While most politicians ride in convertibles, Yellowknife MLA Bob Bromley rode on the back of a truck making music with the Yellowknife Fiddlers. The showstopper for me, however, was not a float or a group. It was a single woman walking in black pumps.

Marty Brown, appearing as Queen Elizabeth, is an original. (She has other guises, too.) As queen, she paraded for CBC North, her former employer. She royally waved, conversed with loyal subjects and reminded one and all that her grandchildren would be in town July 5th. Her sign-bearer carried the message: “Watch my grandkids on CBC.” People applauded, laughed and rushed out to have their photo taken standing with her.

Both the Slave River event and the Yellowknife parade remind me that smaller communities have a special something: creative community. And that makes my heart sing.


Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image