For Immediate Release.
New Westminster, BC. May 15, 2020. The New Westminster May Day Community Association (the “MDA”) announces that, with the support of various community stakeholders, the MDA has agreed to take responsibility for organizing the annual May Day event previously arranged by the New Westminster School District (“SD40”). SD40 reported earlier in 2020 that their support for May Day would end after the historic 150th May Day in Queens Park set for May 20th, 2020, but regrettably the district was later forced to cancel the event due to the Covid-19 pandemic. SD40 indicated that they did not intend to reschedule the event, effectively ending its participation on a permanent basis.
SD40 previously indicated they were seeking to transition May Day to a community group, and the MDA, initially formed as a May Day advocacy group, has now reset its mandate to facilitate the transition and replace the school district as the key organizer of the event.
“Our plan is to mount a celebration of the 150th anniversary of May Day in grand fashion in 2021,” said MDA President Nikki Binns. “In the near term, to mark the 150th this year, we are now working very hard on virtual May Day video to be release on May 20th, 2020.”
New Westminster’s May Day, dating back to 1870, is the longest continuously observed May Day in the British Commonwealth. The event, typically held in Queens Park on a day following Victoria Day, involves the Crowning of a May Queen, Maypole dancing, musical performances, speeches, and other activities such as sports. Detailed information about the history of May Day in New Westminster is available via the MDA’s website www.nwmayday.com
The MDA’s mission is to build community through shared experience, a sense of place, and meaningful connections to the unique cultural heritage of New Westminster. The MDA’s vision is for a May Day that is a vibrant, fun and exciting celebration for all ages that embraces inclusivity, diversity, and reconciliation.
The MDA has received support from key stakeholders in the community including the Hyack Festival Association. City of New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote has also acknowledged the MDA. Qayqayt First Nations Chief Rhonda Larrabee has indicated support for greater indigenous participation in May Day as a bridge to reconciliation. The MDA has learned that the City of New Westminster plans to continue its commitment to the annual May Day Banquet.
“I am thrilled to be involved in saving this important cultural event in our City,” said MDA VP & Founder Rocky Suffron. “Our vision is to make May Day better, but I realize this is a huge task and I ask that anyone interested in helping us please get in touch.”
Lisa Graham, former SD40 Trustee, MDA co-Founder and VP stated: “I am thrilled to be part of this exciting effort to ensure that this important festival lives on long into the future. We will be working hard to make May Day an event that engages the whole community in a meaningful and relevant way.”
A key new MDA volunteer is Mr. Lucas Roque, M.A., a consultant to UNESCO who has worked globally on the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in countries such as Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Peru and Argentina.
Mr. Roque stated: “As a manifestation of intangible cultural heritage (ICH), May Day grew out of a demand from New Westminster’s community. Its origin is associated with the need to build a strong and better community in a time of crisis. May Day provided to that original group a sense of identity and continuity. Today, May Day still provides this sense of identity and belongingness. ICH elements change over time, responding to new situations. Now, 150 years later New Westminster has an opportunity to discuss how May Day can answer the current issues of equity, dialogue and reconciliation and be prepared for the next 150 years.”
Interested community members are urged to connect to the MDA through our website www.nwmayday.com
New Westminster May Day Community Association
For media inquiries and further information contact Communications Director Lorraine Brett at 604-351-8497 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org