Peaceful City of Nations
By Bob Coe
Edmonton’s Heritage Festival is a long midsummer weekend of cascading sounds, smells and colourful sights as nationalities from around the world display their foods, dances, traditions and histories.
Throngs of people who, in their native lands might not tolerate sharing space with neighbours of another religion, political opinion or nationality, mingle in the mass of tens of thousands at sprawling Hawrelak Park, on the south shore of the winding North Saskatchewan River.
As I mingled through this slowly moving mass, stopping frequently to see yet another colourful dance or listen to curious music, it occurred to me I hadn’t seen a uniformed policeman at any time during the long afternoon.
I began a focused search for a police officer. Eventually I spotted a lone police patrol officer and launched a conversation with him.
“I’ve been looking for a policeman,” I said. “How many officers are there here today, and where the heck are they?”
He muttered a response to another onsite officer through the walkie-talkie strapped to his shoulder then turned his attention to answering my question.
“Five of us! Including me there are five city police officers here,” he replied.
“Well,” I repeated, waving my arms to indicate the huge crowd of meandering races, “Where are they?”
“I’m patrolling the park. The other four are on Groat Road, directing traffic!”
Incredible, I thought, that one officer would be sufficient to patrol a park full of races, cultures, religions and political opinions that would undoubtedly clash in another time and place.
I love the coming together with acceptance of people from around the world in this peaceful city of champions, and, as a fourth-generation Edmontonian, that it should not only be on a long summer weekend but a reality evident to me all year long.
Every August long weekend, the Servus Heritage Festival showcases Canada’s rich multicultural heritage. Servus Heritage Festival 2010 will mark the 35th annual event, and will represent over 80 cultures from all over the world.
For a look at the Servus Heritage Festival check out the video below.