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PEAK OF THE MARKET GROWERS AND STAFF ARE PROUD TO CALL MANITOBA HOME. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! TH 150 MY MAN TOBA ● CITY.DESK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA ● WINNIPEGFREEPRESS.COM D1 TUESDAY MAY 12, 2020 Less celebration, more reflection We can still mark province's 150th birthday today — just from a safe, social distance T HIS is not the time, as chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin would say, to throw a big party. Not even one for a birthday as notable as this, 150 candles on the cake, one for each year since the day the Manitoba Act received its royal assent, bringing Canada's fifth province into Confederation. And in truth, even in normal years, the date passes without too much atten- tion. Today may be designated Manito- ba Day, but it's not a holiday, and rarely marked by any big campaigns. Teach- ers, museums and politicians may seek to acknowledge it, but for the average Manitoban life goes on as normal, the date's significance muted. This year was supposed to be dif- ferent, in a way. The original slate of Manitoba 150 events and celebrations aimed to, among other things, draw our attention to the history of the province in which we live, to carry its legacy closer to the surface of our thinking. But now that's all been postponed until next year. In keeping with the times, there are a few online offerings to mark the 150th anniversary of the Manitoba Act's royal assent. The province has posted a printable Manitoba flag co- louring page for kids on its website; the archives have unveiled a digital event featuring old films of Manitoba life, captured in various places and various times. And the Association of Manitoba Museums is taking part, assembling an online exhibit it dubbed A Museum Called Manitoba. The site features images and descriptions of 150 arti- facts, taken from collections held in museums from across urban and rural Manitoba, each one casting light on some aspect of life in the province. So let this Manitoba Day be a quiet celebration, then. Not going anywhere special, just staying in. Still, drowned as it is by a flood of pandemic news, the date ought not pass without pause. What happened on May 12, 1870 charted the course for the community we know today; where we come from shapes who we are. The pandemic itself has brought this into focus, in a strange sort of way. We ar e s ea le d o ff n ow , a t l ea st i n s pi ri t: th e U.S. border is closed. Visitors from out of province have to quarantine for 14 days. The COVID-19 numbers we pay closest attention to are those within our borders, and their rise or fall is what most impacts our day-to-day. We have listened to Manitoba health officials speak about their challenges sourcing enough personal protective equipment. We have argued over the province's decisions on what or even whether to cut, or which places and services should stay closed and which can remain open. The virus has had the effect of encouraging us to look inward. So while it is not the time for a big party, and not the time for all the festivities that had until recently been planned, perhaps it is the perfect time to consider the milestone of Manitoba's entry into Canada. Without the Red River Resistance, and the Manitoba Act it engendered, our lives now would look much different. Through the last 150 years, Mani- toba has carved out a unique place for itself within Canada. It has always been a place stuck in-between, not fully in step with the West but often disconnected from the East. A bridge between old divisions, rarely at the top of the Canadian imagination, and often left to, more or less, do its own thing. Ours is a province ushered into existence by an act of resistance. It is a province still bearing the scars of its mottled history, chief among its injustices being the dispossession of First Nations and Métis people; though reconciliation is now a matter of some attention, those old scars are thick and gnarled, and healing is slow. At the same time, ours is a province that has been marked by perseverance. It has been, to many who came and remain, a refuge from persecution; a place to start fresh; a chance to build hope. For most of Manitoba's history, it hasn't been able to dangle the promise of unusual riches, but it can whisper of stability and space to grow. So, on this milestone anniversary, how should we pay our respects to what came before? Check out those on- line exhibits. Read up on the complex legacy of Louis Riel, and the Red River Resistance. Take time to consider how Manitoba's political and social landscape still reflects the events sur- rounding the province's creation. And take time, too, to think about why it's important to remember, especially when that takes so much more effort than the forgetting. The past is the road we have travelled; its course has been shaped by many. But while we are heirs to Manitoba's his- tory, we are also its authors, its current path shaped by all who live here today. So let's take a moment and celebrate a place that, while deeply imperfect, has been a cherished home to so many. For 150 years, Manitoba has been a province. We are still discovering what that means, or perhaps it would be better to say our understanding of what it means has changed along the way. If today offers little in the way of festivities, it at least offers a reminder of where our community came from, and what it's endured along the way. So make a wish, Manitoba. Blow out the candles. And try to have a happy, albeit socially distant, birthday. MELISSA MARTIN SECTION D MIK AEL A MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The provincial flag flaps and billows at the Manitoba Legislative Building as the Keystone Province marks its 150th birthday today. It will be a quiet celebration but not insignificant.

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