The stage is set for the beginning of a year-long celebration to mark North Cowichan’s 150th anniversary.
And it all begins Sunday, June 18 in Chemainus at Waterwheel Park from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with detailed plans being finalized.
“Everyone’s welcome to come and join us,” said Barb Floden, the municipality’s manager of communications and public engagement. “We’re encouraging everybody to participate in every shape and form.”
“This is more about community coming together and community helping to co-create the event,” added event planner Cynthia Lockrey.
Community organizations have played a significant part in the planning process and that will continue at more events in the months ahead. This event is being organized with the support of the Chemainus Business Improvement Association, Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society and the Chemainus + District Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re going to work hard to bring our 150 activation team to events throughout the summer,” said Floden.
The activation team is mostly Parks and Recreation staff that will be available to attend various events. A special 150 tent, staff T-shirts, giveaways, prizes and more are all ready to go.
The 150th branded street banners have already been installed in Chemainus.
The June 18 celebration is a free family event that will include live music and entertainment, kids’ activities, food trucks and a birthday cake.
The Chemainus Community Band will be playing as people arrive and at the conclusion of the on-stage entertainment. Welcoming remarks at 11 a.m. by elders and VIPs will be followed at 11:30 a.m. by JoHannah Knight, the Tzinquaw Dancers at noon, the Hardware Girls at 12:30 p.m. and Ken Lavigne at 1:30 p.m.
“North Cowichan’s going to have a station to share what you love about North Cowichan,” added Lockrey.
There will be opportunities to share words and pictures that show what people love about North Cowichan at events, online and on Instagram.
“It’ll be grass roots, less about government and more about community celebrating community and celebrating what we love,” summed up Lockrey. “That’s the beautiful part. We all love something different.”
“I learn something new that everybody loves about North Cowichan all the time,” said Floden. “It’s exciting to learn about those places and things of all corners of North Cowichan.”
Working on the project is also providing a valuable experience for communications student Megan Zolorycki.
“I’m here for the whole summer,” she said. “I’m just learning lots from Barb and seeing what local government looks like from a communications perspective.”
The Chemainus celebration coincides with North Cowichan’s incorporation on June 18, 1873, making it the fifth oldest municipality in B.C. The sesquicentennial is also providing an opportunity for reflection on the rich history of the region far before 1873.
“This is a significant milestone for North Cowichan and an opportunity to look ahead to our future,” noted Mayor Rob Douglas. “As we celebrate 150 years as a municipality, it is important we acknowledge the much longer history of Indigenous Peoples who have lived in this area since time immemorial, recognizing that truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities is an important and ongoing journey.”
There’s much more taking place around the municipality for the rest of the year and into 2024.
The Cowichan Historical Society is hosting an exhibition until June 30 at the Cowichan Valley Museum (Duncan Train Station) of the work of 24 artists, both past and present, that celebrate North Cowichan’s 150th anniversary. On June 18, there will also be a classic car display and cake.
The BC Forest Discovery Centre is hosting a special 150th anniversary celebration day on Aug. 20 with activities for kids and adults.
More about the 150th celebrations, including an up-to-date list of events, can be found at www.northcowichan.ca/150.