Rev­ellers brave soggy, sticky weather at Canada 150 bash

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

Pa­per Maple Leaf flags soaked by an early morn­ing down­pour quickly turned into makeshift fans to ward off sticky af­ter­noon warmth Satur­day as thou­sands of peo­ple squelched and squished their way around Par­lia­ment Hill to cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th birth­day.

About 25,000 peo­ple — a wa­ter­logged rainbow coali­tion of rain slick­ers, pon­chos and um­brel­las — were on hand as the mid­day show wrapped up, but the down­town core teemed with cel­e­brants through­out the day as the sun came out and crowds amassed anew in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the evening show.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, who was to re­turn to host the sec­ond in­stal­ment, was on hand ear­lier Satur­day along­side his fam­ily, as well as Prince Charles and the Duchess of Corn­wall, for a se­ries of per­for­mances that be­gan with Buffy Sainte-Marie’s rous­ing ver­sion of “Carry On.’’

A sin­gle CF-18 streaked over the Cen­tre Block, drown­ing out the fi­nal notes of O Canada, be­fore the prime min­is­ter de­liv­ered a rous­ing, force­ful and en­thu­si­as­tic cel­e­bra­tion of the unique power and re­silience of the Canadian char­ac­ter.

“We don’t aspire to be a melt­ing pot,’’ Trudeau told the cheer­ing crowd.

“We know true strength and re­silience flows through Canadian diversity. Ours is a land of orig­i­nal peo­ples and of newcomers, and our great­est pride is that you can come here from any­where in the world, build a good life and be part of our com­mu­nity.’’

The week’s cel­e­bra­tions have been tinged with the re­sent­ment and frus­tra­tion of indige­nous peo­ple chaf­ing over the coun­try’s op­pres­sive, colo­nial past — a sen­ti­ment sym­bol­ized by the teepee erected not far from the stage, and ex­pressed overtly by pro­test­ers in Mon­treal.

There, a small group marched through the city’s Old Port to de­nounce what they called colo­nial­ist and racist poli­cies, throw­ing coloured leaflets and chanted slo­gans as they made their way through a crowded tourist area, mon­i­tored by dozens of uni­formed po­lice of­fi­cers.

“Our past is far from per­fect,’’ Trudeau ac­knowl­edged in Ot­tawa. “For cen­turies, Indige­nous Peo­ples have been vic­tims of op­pres­sion, from the time when the first ex­plor­ers cel­e­brated their dis­cov­ery of the new world.’’

He urged the crowd to ac­knowl­edge the coun­try’s his­tory and to con­front its re­al­ity.

“We must ed­u­cate our­selves and ded­i­cate our ef­forts to progress,’’ he said. “It is a choice we make not be­cause of what we did, or who we were, but be­cause of who we are.’’

CP PHOTO

Peo­ple wear­ing Canadian flags watch fire­works ex­plode over the Peace Tower dur­ing the evening cer­e­monies of Canada’s 150th an­niver­sary of Con­fed­er­a­tion, in Ot­tawa on Satur­day.

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