This year the City of Wetaskiwin held a Canada Day decorating contest as a social distancing friendly way to celebrate the national holiday.
Out of the submissions sent in, members of Wetaskiwin City Council selected 10 finalists who each won $250 and were then in contention to win the Grand Prize.
Jessica Hanks said she was so excited to be selected for one of the 10 finalist positions that she cried—and then again when she won the Grand Prize. “My kids were screaming they were so excited,” Hanks says about finding out that she had one the top spot.
The Grand Prize was decided by online votes submitted by the public and came with an additional $500 cash prize. Hanks received 6,117 votes for her inclusive and patriotic decorations.
Canadian flags weave through her yard, hanging from the fence, trees, swing-set and deck. However, Hanks also wanted to use her decorations to show a respect for Canadian history and inclusivity. Hanks says, “I wanted to show my love for my country,” and “use it as a teaching moment for my kids.”
In addition to the Canadian flags, Hanks hung a Treaty 6 flag on the house and a Pride flag in the yard. Hanks said it was important to her to acknowledge the land we are on and Canada’s early history.
Also in Canadian spirit, Hanks decided to reach out to her fellow competitors. With some of her prize money, she reached out to each of the contest entrants that didn’t make the top 10 finalist positions to offer each participant $50 from her Grand Prize winnings.
Hanks is also donating part of the winnings to the local food bank. She says, “If you want good things to come to you, you’d better put good out into the world.”
Hanks says that her family would be more than happy to participate in another Canada Day decorating contest next year, should the City decide to hold the competition again.
However, she says if they were to have success similar to this year they would forfeit their win to the runner up. Hanks says that everybody should have the opportunity to experience the joy she did and the feeling of your work being appreciated by the community.