Thousands party on Parliament Hill for Canada 150
Published Saturday, July 1, 2017 9:31AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 1, 2017 9:13PM EDT
Thousands of revellers didn’t let grey skies and rain dampen their spirits as they celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday on Parliament Hill Saturday.
Scroll down or click here to read our blog from CTV reporters and producers who were at the scene.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and their three young children were joined by Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as Governor General David Johnston and his wife Sharon for Canada Day festivities.
The dignitaries greeted an estimated 25,000 people who gathered early under gloomy skies and rain to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial. In Ottawa’s downtown core, crowds decked out in celebratory red and white packed the streets.
The massive party was not without its hiccups, as hundreds waited in lines for hours to clear security gates and get onto Parliament Hill grounds.
A Parliamentary Protective Services spokesperson told CTV News that there were initial delays at the event due to flooding, as well as the arrival of dignitaries.
Firefighters were able to pump out the flooded area, the spokesperson said, and pedestrian traffic resumed.
The drab weather and delays didn’t put a total damper on the festivities.
Speaking to the crowd, Trudeau praised Canada for its reputation of multiculturalism, inclusiveness and for being a peacemaker on the world stage.
He said that 150 years marking confederation was “as good a time as any” to celebrate, and “reflect on our past, cheer on today, and recommit ourselves to the future.”
He continued: “But let’s not kid ourselves. Today isn’t really our 150th birthday. We’re much older than that. Canada and the idea of Canada goes much further back than just 150 years.
“For thousands of years, in this place, people have met, traded, built, loved, lost, fought and grieved. They built strong communities, they worked hard to build better lives for their kids and learned to lean on their neighbours.”
In his speech, Prince Charles 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.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we should be clear and proud that we are celebrating a country that others look to for example,” the prince said. “An example of fairness and inclusion. Of always striving to be better.”
Among the performers on the main stage were Irish rockers Bono and The Edge, who congratulated Canadians on their anniversary before performing the hit U2 song “One.”
In his comments, Bono briefly alluded to U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"When others build walls, you open doors," he said. "Where you lead, others follow, and that's the real reason the Edge and I are here today."
Earlier Saturday, Prince Charles met with Trudeau at Rideau Hall, where the royal became an extraordinary companion of the Order of Canada.
During a brief chat, the pair discussed the rainy conditions. "We're Canadians," Trudeau was heard to say. "We can handle a little weather."
Dignitaries and politicians from around the world are joining in Canada’s celebration, sending notes of congratulations and birthday wishes to the Great White North.
Jenna Doerksen, 29, travelled with her family from Winnipeg to participate in Ottawa celebrations. Wearing a red T-shirt and a flags on a tiara, Doerksen told The Canadian Press that she’s “wanted to come to Parliament Hill since high school.”
Politicians send birthday greetings
U.S. President Donald Trump issued a shout-out on Twitter, wishing Canadians and his “new found friend” Justin Trudeau a “Happy Canada Day.”
In a video posted online, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also sent her best wishes on Canada’s birthday.
“There are few countries anywhere in the world which hold such a strong connection to Scotland as Canada does,” she said.
In a Canada Day statement issued Saturday, Trudeau acknowledged tensions with Canada’s indigenous community leading up to the sesquicentennial.
“As we mark Canada 150, we also recognize that for many, today is not an occasion for celebration; Indigenous Peoples in this country have faced oppression for centuries,” Trudeau said. “As a society, we must acknowledge and apologize for past wrongs, and chart a path forward for the next 150 years – one in which we continue to build our nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationship with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation.”
On Friday, Trudeau met with indigenous activists who set a protest teepee on Parliament Hill earlier this week to engage in what they referred to as “reoccupation” of the land and draw attention to indigenous affairs.
At first, the group clashed with police, but the structure was later allowed to stay, and it was moved closer to the main stage for Canada Day celebrations.
Canada Day celebrations are taking place across the country Saturday, and kicked off with a boat cruise off the shores of Cape Spear, N.L. – Canada’s most easterly point.
With files from The Canadian Press
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