Thousands of patriotic Canadians braved the line-ups, the rain and mud, the street closures, and the porta-potties to celebrate our nation’s birthday Parliament Hill style. Those who finally made it through the security gates were not disappointed.
One of the signature events of the celebration was the noon hour show which included dignitaries such as our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family, his royal highness the Prince of Wales, as well as Canada’s governor General David Johnston.
Trudeau, greeted by cheers from most of the crowd and some jeers from dozens of indigenous rights activists who had erected a tepee on site to bring awareness to the federal government’s treatment of their people, was certainly in his element. He praised Canada for its reputation of multiculturalism, inclusiveness and for being a peacemaker on the world stage and stated that today is as good a time as any to recommit ourselves to the future our country. Too bad he forgot to include Alberta in his shout-out to the provinces and territories. Oops!
Prince Charles followed with a speech in which he said that Canada is known around the world as a being a champion of human rights, a peacekeeper and a responsible steward of the environment and natural resources. He added that we should be clear and proud that we are celebrating a country that others look to for example, an example of fairness and inclusion.
Bilingual hosts Sandra Oh and Mitsou brought a bit of levity to the show as they introduced the numerous performers that would be entertaining the masses. Oh called out the Prime Minister for forgetting Alberta and he promptly jumped on stage and apologized shaking his head.
The opening number was performed by the legendary Buffy Sainte Marie who made her way into the crowd and back onto the stage singing her rousing rendition of “Carry On” which was a fitting tribute to the indigenous members of the audience.
The most famous of the show’s performers were without a doubt U2’s Bono and The Edge who, despite being Irish and not Canadian, received a very warm welcome from the crowd. The pair acknowledged the country’s reputation for tolerance and consensus-building. Making reference to what continues to unfold south of our border, Bono added “When others build walls, you open doors” before launching into a stripped-down version of their hit “One”.
The party would be brought to an end by Burlington Ontario’s own Walk Off The Earth who played a cover of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” to the delight of the crowd who sang along.
Stay tuned for our Part 2 of our Canada Day on Parliament Hill, the evening show coverage, coming soon…