You’re not alone if you’re wondering how and whether to gather with family on July 1st this year. Recent events, including the discovery of children’s remains at several Canadian residential schools, has prompted important discussions about whether to commemorate this statutory holiday that marks the anniversary of Canadian Confederation. COVID-19 restrictions may also require us to get creative about gathering outdoors or virtually, depending on the region where we live.

The word O Canada made with light painting technique

At Amica, we are conscious of these issues and offering programs accordingly. “At Amica Somerset House, we are fundraising for our local Victoria Native Friendship Centre to support Indigenous children aging out of care,” says Life Enrichment Coordinator Claire Liaros, who is also organizing guest speakers for National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.

Amica residents who choose to celebrate Canada Day with less fanfare this year may be dressing in red and white and attending outdoor concerts or barbecues on residence patios, terraces and courtyards. 

Even if Canada Day events look a little different this year, the following senior-friendly activities can help make it an engaging and thought-provoking day for kids, seniors, friends and family.

1. Learn about indigenous history together
Some Canadian teens, children, parents and seniors may choose to mark July 1 with a reflection on the history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. If getting together in person isn’t possible, why not schedule a family video call and screenshare some fascinating Indigenous stories and facts? Sites such as CBC Kids offer slideshows and videos that are as interesting for seniors and adults as they are for kids.

2. Attend an outdoor or virtual event, concert or fireworks
Do an Internet search to find out if senior-friendly Canada Day gatherings, parades and musical events are allowed in your region and make plans to attend with the whole family. If not, tune in to virtual events together via screenshare on a video call, such as White Rock’s “Canada Day by the Bay” starting at 1 PM PST with musical and comedy guests. (Amica White Rock is one of the sponsors.)

3. Create a Canadiana club
Send a book or movie by a well-known Canadian author or filmmaker to the seniors in your life, along with other family members, and then discuss it at your Canada Day gathering or video call. You could even make it a monthly event.

Or, start a regular letter exchange in which grandparents share their Canadian memories with grandkids, who can respond with their own news and questions. “Residents just love receiving letters and care packages — it’s really touching to see,” says Liaros.

4. Host a red and white Canada Day picnic
If your public health region has given the green light for outdoor gatherings, plan an intergenerational picnic complete with tomato and bocconcini cheese skewers, burgers and Canada-flag inspired cupcakes. Single-serving dishes like these are recommended in our safe COVID-19 entertaining at home tips from chef Gary McBlain, Amica’s National Director of Culinary Services.

5. Make and film your own distanced Canada Day parade
If COVID-19 or visitor restrictions mean the extended family can’t visit grandparents and other beloved seniors, consider organizing your own parade in cars or on foot near a balcony or window where they can watch. Handmade signs, Canada flags and Canadian tunes will surely show the love. Be sure to capture it on video so they can watch it again.

This kind of support means so much to seniors, says Liaros. “Family members have gone above and beyond during the pandemic, holding up signs to show their love.” 

6. Organize an outdoor or virtual Canada Day trivia game
If you’re looking for Canada Day activities for seniors and kids, you’ll find plenty of Canada-themed quizzes and trivia games on sites like Pinterest, CBC Kids, Canadianliving.com and more. (Heritage Minutes, the informative 60-second short films that outline significant Canadian people, events and stories, are also available to watch together on historicacanada.ca.) Organize the activities as part of an outdoor barbeque or a video call to get the whole family talking and sharing Canadian lore.

Book a virtual or in-person tour to find out what it’s like to enjoy living on your terms in an elegant Amica residence with outstanding dining, amenities, activities, senior care and safety measures.