Despite reports of COVID-19 cases increasing again in Alberta province due to the Delta variant, the city of Edmonton still pushed through with its 48th Heritage Festival.
Thousands gathered at Hawrelak Park over the weekend to celebrate the three-day festival that aims to honor Alberta's cultural heritage and diversity. The event, which was postponed last year because of the pandemic, cut the number of visitors by half to maintain social distance.
The Edmonton Filipino Associations was among those who joined in the celebration. "Kahit na wala na pong restrictions dito sa amin sa Canada, our volunteers para dito sa pavilion natin ay naka-mask. Unfortunately hindi naka-mask dito sa labas, okay lang (Even if Canada no longer has restrictions, our volunteers here in the pavilion wear masks. Unfortunately, for the outdoors, it's okay not to wear masks)," said Tony Surtida, President of the Council of Edmonton Filipino Associations.
The total lifting of restrictions in Alberta has resulted in rallies in Edmonton, but some Filipino Canadians are tired of the measures. Edmonton resident Aimee Symington shared, "I've already been double vaccinated since February... I understand that we should still be careful; we should be cautious. Pero let's have fun (but let's have fun)."
The Heritage Festival featured some 45 pavilions from countries and cultures around the world, the lowest number in a long time since its inception. The event showcased music, dancing, and art but it focused largely on selling authentic food.
The main goal of the festival is to promote intercultural exchange and to combat discrimination. Organizers cited a 2020 survey which found that 60% of respondents believe racism is a serious problem in Canada right now, an increase of 13 % from 2019.