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Language school steps up to fund Canada Day celebrations at legislature

EF International Language Campuses will be the main presenting sponsor, after Central Walk Holdings Ltd. announced last month it would not be back.
Canada Day festivities at Ship Point last year. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Just over a month before the big event, organizers of this year’s Canada Day festivities on the legislature lawn have found a new presenting sponsor.

EF International Language Campuses has stepped in to take on the job, after last year’s main sponsor, Central Walk Holdings Ltd., owners of Mayfair Shopping Centre, announced last month it would not be back.

While the cost of presenting sponsorship was not confirmed, it’s believed to be about half the $250,000 cost of putting on the event.

“We’re very pleased, and EF is a great organization — this is a really good fit for us,” said Douglas Smith, managing partner for Blue Coast Event Group, producer of the show, which is organized by the non-profit Penmar Community Arts Society. “As multicultural as Canada has become and as diverse as we want to make Canada Day, it’s just a fantastic partner to have.

“And for them to come forward at this point and support us to the level they are is just the best news we could have possibly got.”

Details of the sponsorship have not been made public, but Elena Eliseeva, Victoria-based campus director for EF International, said she hopes it will become a multi-year partnership. “I would love for it to be a multi-year commitment. I really do see it continuing into something fantastic for many years,” she said.

EF International Language Campuses is one of the largest English-language immersion programs in the world.

“I feel like Canada Day is all about celebrating the diversity of Canada and its culture and we kind of do the same thing every day for our international students,” Eliseeva said. “So I thought it would be great to participate in that because it also gives an experience to our students as well, and it’s an immersive experience, which is exactly why they come to Canada.”

Smith said the event is now close to where it would like to be financially, “but we could certainly use a little bit more support at this point.”

Even if they don’t hit their target, however, Canada Day celebrations will not have to be scaled back, he said. “We’re going to have a good show.”

The City of Victoria, which no longer leads Canada Day celebrations, has contributed $125,000 through a festival investment grant of $50,000, $25,000 toward the fireworks and a Canadian Heritage Grant of $50,000.

Other local sponsors that have contributed include Chard Development, Starlight Group Property Holdings Inc., You Move Me and Island Savings.

This year’s event will return to the lawns of the B.C. legislature, after last year’s event was held at Ship Point. It’s expected to include main-stage performances, kids’ zone activities, food and fireworks.

Anyone who wants to participate as a sponsor, main stage performer or volunteer is asked to go to for more information.

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