British Columbia

B.C.'s capital city takes Canada Day celebrations virtual for 2020

Just because there is a pandemic doesn't mean there won't be a party.

And yes, there will be fireworks ... to light up your living room

Fireworks in Victoria, B.C., won't light up the night sky this Canada Day, but they will light up living rooms as the party moves onto television and online. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press )

There will still be entertainment and fireworks in Victoria, B.C., for Canada Day, although this year, the celebrations will be viewed from the couch, instead of downtown, the usual epicentre of the festivities.

The City of Victoria, in partnership with Canadian Heritage, has taken the celebrations virtual because of COVID-19 concerns and on July 1 at 7 p.m., people can watch on the city's Facebook page or YouTube channel.

The one hour, commercial-free event will also be broadcast on television courtesy of CHEK News.

Several local musical acts and artists will perform at Canada's 153rd birthday party including:

  • Caleb Hart: Hailing from Tobago, Hart's music includes everything from reggae, gospel and soul to calypso, a mixture he likes to call "island soul."
  • Fake Fake: Charlotte Hynds and Justin Campbell make up this duo, influenced by an array of intergenerational R&B, soul, funk and electronic music.
  • The Lək̓ʷəŋən Traditional Dancers from the Songhees nation
  • Paint the Town Red: A rap group from the Tsartlip nation in the W̱SÁNEĆ territory.
  • The Phatfunks: This local funk band's six piece core, composed of a rock-solid rhythm section and powerful, tight horns, combine influences from old-school funk, R&B, hip hop and jazz fusion.
Hailing from Tobago, Caleb Hart's music includes everything from reggae, gospel and soul to calypso, a mixture Hart likes to call 'island soul.' (Caleb Hart website)

"We are very excited to be able to support some of the artists in our community who, of course, during COVID, are suffering," said Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe on CBC's On The Island.

Thornton-Joe has helped organize Victoria's Canada Day celebrations for over two decades and has found a silver lining about having to go digital in 2020.

"I won't be doing probably 45,000 steps that day," said Thornton-Joe with a laugh, adding there is also far less worry about the weather co-operating.

Living flag still alive

One thing she said she will miss, however, is the popular living flag event where up to 5,000 people have gathered on the lawn of the B.C. Legislature in past years. Dressed in red and white, the group then forms a living Canadian flag. 

But this year, anyone who would have otherwise participated in the living flag could send a picture of themselves in red and white to the local Times Colonist newspaper. The paper is issuing a print version of the flag made up of all those submitted images.

Upwards of 5,000 people have gathered on the lawn of the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day in past years to build a human flag. (Victoria Canada Day/Twitter)

So music, entertainment and the flag are all taken care off, but what about the traditional fireworks display that usually lights up the harbour area downtown?

Now, they will just light up your living room.

Thornton-Joe says there will be a virtual fireworks display created using footage from past shows to top off the night.

Tap here to learn more about what to expect and where to watch Victoria's Canada Day 2020.

With files from On The Island


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