Huge crowds celebrate Canada’s 150 anniversary

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Themorningbellbd.com desk, July 2: Revellers, police and some protesters have converged on Canada’s national capital on Saturday for a party that has been years in the planning.

Canada is marking its 150th anniversary as a country in towns, cities and at backyard barbecues nationwide.

But the biggest bash is at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, where organisers expect hundreds of thousands of people.

And by mid-morning, they had turned out in their droves – albeit huddled under umbrellas, trying to avoid the rain.

Some partygoers, like 24-year-old students Morgan Haines, Jon Salamati and Nima Sahebi, got to the hill before the sun had even risen.

Their early morning netted them a prime spot right next to the main stage, where they said they planned to stay until after the fireworks at midnight.

The three travelled from Vancouver, on Canada’s west coast, to celebrate the day in the capital.

“One-fifty is only going to happen once,” Mr Salamati said. “By the time we hit Canada 200, we might not be able to do this trip.”

The celebrations included a concert by Canadian artists, a display from Canada’s aerobatics squadron the Snowbirds, a citizenship ceremony for new Canadians, and a massive fireworks display.

Canadian theatre giants Cirque du Soleil performed, and Bono and The Edge from rock band U2 serenaded the crowd with an acoustic set.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has made inclusiveness a political calling card, gave a speech celebrating that attribute.

“We don’t care where you’re from or what religion you practise, or whom you love – you are all welcome in Canada,” he said to cheers from the crowd.

Mr Trudeau’s speech was delivered in both English and French, a tradition in Canada, which recognises both as its official languages.

“This is as good a reason as any to reflect on our past, to cheer on today, and to recommit ourselves to the future,” he said to the 25,000 partygoers who had waited hours to get past security and on to the parliament’s lawn.

But he also took a moment to remember Canada’s indigenous people, whom he said had been “the victims of oppression” since the first settlers arrived.

“As a society, we must acknowledge past mistakes,” he said, telling the audience that there was still much work to be done in order to achieve reconciliation.

However, Canada, he said, was determined to see a reconciliation over the coming years and decades.

“It is a choice we make not because of what we did, or who we were, but because of who we are,” Mr Trudeau said.

Source: Agencies