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This Week in Canada: Art Toronto Goes National, Plus Pumpkin Parades, a Wine & Pie Fundraiser, and More

BizBash's new Canada-focused column covers the week's biggest event news.

Montreal's Cinemania film festival, which celebrates French films with English subtitles, is hosting its 26th edition virtually from Nov. 4-22. The event presents 94 films from 19 countries, and all screenings are available Canada-wide for the first time due to the online format.
Montreal's Cinemania film festival, which celebrates French films with English subtitles, is hosting its 26th edition virtually from Nov. 4-22. The event presents 94 films from 19 countries, and all screenings are available Canada-wide for the first time due to the online format.
Photo: Courtesy of Cinemania

Welcome to BizBash's newest column, covering Canada’s biggest event news from coast to coast. Got a tip? Get in touch!

Provincial News
On Oct. 31, a socially distanced "Howloween" parade featuring costumed pets and their owners took place in Central Memorial Park. Spectators watched as festively dressed cats and dogs walked the loop around the park and enjoyed pumpkin treats by Sidewalk Citizen. The organic restaurant and bakery also conducted a social media-based costume contest, inviting participants to post a picture with their pets at any of its three locations and tag the venue for a chance to win a gift card. Howloween was hosted by Calgary Public Library and Calgary Expo, a four-day fan convention that annually attracts 100,000 people to Stampede Park.

British Columbia: Wine & Pie, a Kelowna-based fundraiser that supports women and girls in need, takes place virtually Nov. 6. For the first time, the event has expanded to Vernon, British Columbia and Edmonton, with the goal of raising $30,000 for Her International, WIN House, and the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society. Wine and dinner selections provided by local restaurants will be delivered to homes of attendees, who can also purchase “bring your own dinner” tickets. The evening will include online games, a raffle, and a silent auction, plus live performances by the Edmonton Oilers' official national anthem singer Robert Clark as well as indie singer-songwriter Leah West. 

Ontario: Although many pumpkin parades took place virtually this year, volunteers and staff from Kingsville’s parks and recreation department gathered jack-o-lanterns for the city's third annual in-person event Nov. 1, according to CBC. Nearly 300 pumpkins were collected during the afternoon, arranged on a pathway through Lakeside Park, then lit up for residents to safely walk through and enjoy. Leftover pumpkins were delivered to Kingsville-area farms to be fed to livestock. The parade was produced by a local committee for Communities in Bloom, a national organization that promotes sustainability and gardening-focused regional projects. 

Quebec: A computer sciences society at McGill University launched “Pumpkin Power Hour,” a custom-built online environment for student entertainment, on Nov. 1. Throughout the hour, participants were invited to get into teams to "battle" a Pumpkin King by solving a series of competitive challenges to earn points and win an UberEats gift card. The virtual experience also included a selection of individual games, plus a Halloween playlist. 

Art Toronto, Canada’s largest art fair, is taking place online through Nov. 8. While the exhibition traditionally draws thousands of artists, collectors, and industry professionals to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, this year’s virtual show will feature art from more than 100 Canadian and international galleries and institutions, including the Monte Clark in Vancouver, the TrĂ©panier Baer in Calgary, and the Bradley Ertaskiran in Montreal. The fair launched Oct. 28 with a virtual preview benefiting the Art Gallery of Ontario, which featured a live Q&A with contemporary artists Shary Boyle and Rajni Perera, early access to purchasing limited-edition works, and a DJ set by Club Quarantine founder Casey MQ. 

For its 26th year, the Canada-wide Take Our Kids to Work Day, produced by The Learning Partnership and RBC Future Launch, took place Nov. 4. Rather than physically going to workplaces with parents or volunteers, over 200,000 ninth-grade students took part in an online experience that enabled them to learn about various careers from a variety of businesses and organizations. The day began with a kick-off event led by RBC, followed by four 20-minute breakout sessions hosted by experts in skilled trades, finance and technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, and healthcare fields.

This Remembrance Day, Operation Raise a Flag invites Canadians everywhere to thank residents at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre—the country’s largest veteran facility—through donations that go towards amenities that improve residents’ quality of life. Although hundreds of volunteers usually take part in planting over 35,000 Canadian flags across the center's grounds, Sunnybrook staff and Canadian Armed Forces members will be in charge of preparing the red and white display this year. Donors can also send personalized thank-you notes to veterans and use a special Instagram filter to encourage more Canadians to take part. 

"I didn't know them personally, but I'm sure every migrant worker who comes here comes to bring a better life back in Mexico. They come here leaving everybody behind and they're brave men to come and work the best they can. We are working closely with local authorities here in the municipality on giving information to the workers regarding safety measures, washing hands, wearing masks. ... These kinds of things that are simple, are easy to handle, and most importantly, [are] helping them to prevent the possibility of contracting the virus.”

—Cristina Amaya, speaking to CBC about Day of the Dead celebrations honoring two migrant workers in Leamington who passed away from COVID-19.

On the Scene
Although this year’s Christmas Market is canceled, Toronto’s Distillery District has installed its traditional tree—with more festive activities to be announced. 

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