It’s time to dust off the beaver and celebrate Canada’s 148th birthday.
Down at St. Albert city hall, Nicole Pearson wants to make sure everyone will have a good time. As part of the marketing and communications team for recreation and parks, Pearson has organized a free evening outdoor concert at St. Albert Place.
“We’ve never done anything of this magnitude before. When you look at last year’s event, we just brought in local musicians to play throughout the day at Lions Park,” said Pearson.
“This year we thought we’d switch things around and bring in bigger talent.”
The shift has much to do with the theme – a dedication to the RCMP and other police officers that pledge to serve and protect even at the cost of their lives.
And while the celebration has all the characteristics of a big happy party, Pearson predicts a few poignant moments.
Part way through the concert there will be a 20-minute recognition ceremony to fallen RCMP Const. David Matthew Wynn and Auxilliary Const. Derek Bond.
“We want to honour what the RCMP do to keep Canadians safe. Wynn was a country music fan and we wanted to keep the concert country,” Pearson said.
Key to this observance are three visual arts pieces that Lewis Lavoie will create during the day in full view of Canada Day party-goers, Pearson said.
At the evening concert, two canvases will be presented to the Wynn and Bond families. The third is earmarked for Keenooshayo School where Bond liaised as a DARE officer. Both families are slated to attend the concert.
The evening’s featured headliner is Toronto-based Autumn Hill, an up-and-coming, cross-over country-pop duo that successfully sold over 100,000 singles. Tareya Green and Mike Robins latest single Blame is the “most added song on country radio.”
St. Albert’s own country princess Hailey Benedict, 13, winner of the Fan Choice Award from the Association of Country Music in Alberta, sings a set that showcases her latest composition, Dare to be a Hero, a tribute song she composed and recorded as a pledge to Wynn.
Canadian Idol finalist and country rock artist JayDee Bixby also flexes his musical muscles and Edmonton emerging country-pop singer Alee opens the evening.
Benedict was the only performing artist that knew Wynn personally.
“When Const. Wynn lost his life and Const. Bond was injured, it really hit home. My grandpa was a police officer. Another reason it had a big impact is that Const. Wynn was the DARE resource officer when I was in Grade 6. He presented me with a DARE award,” Benedict explained.
“When this (shooting) happened, I wanted to put it in a song. In my heart I felt like I needed to write it out and put it out there for other people.
In the meantime, Bixby, who has won international acclaim opening for Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney, also has a connection to the shootings.
“My father-in-law is in the RCMP. To see people hardened and geared for this stuff break down – it’s really hard to see.”
Bixby plans to sing Everyday Heroes, a song he first sang live in 2009.
“Every day officers put their life on the line but this song is about the everyday heroes, the ones that keep families together after Daddy isn’t coming home any more.”
Bixby became a first-time father on Father’s Day and holding little Brixton in his arms has magnified the importance of family and this event.
“I’m really honoured to be there and sing for the families.”
In the middle of releasing her debut album Say Hello to Goodbye on July 10, Alee will crack out one very special song for the concert, a cover of the Dixie Chicks’ Travelin’ Soldier.
“It’s amazing what people have given up for us. It’s amazing the number of people who have fought to give us the life we live and I’m so grateful for it.”
Throughout the day starting at 11 a.m. in Rotary and Riel parks, numerous area singer-songwriters will hit the stage. They include Alberta Rose, Greetings and Parade, Mireille Moquin, Head Over Heels, Paul Woida, The Lost Owls, Ella Coyes and Rocky Dumais (Native storyteller).
Canada Day Concerts
Rocky Dumais, Ella Coyes, The Lost Owls, Paul Woida, Head Over Heels, Mireille Moquin, Greetings and Parade, and Alberta Rose
July 1 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Rotary and Riel Park
Autumn Hill, RCMP Recognition, Hailey Benedict, JayDee Bixby, Alee
July 1 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
St. Albert Place