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Canada commemorates King Charles III's coronation with ceremony in the nation's capital

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As the Commonwealth celebrates the history-making coronation of King Charles III, Canada marked the occasion with a ceremony that had a concerted focus on hope for the future, centred around key shared priorities of the Crown and Canada: the environment, service to others, and Indigenous reconciliation.

While not a national holiday in Canada, as the ceremony at London's Westminster Abbey winded down, commemoration events in the nation's capital got underway, with an hour-long celebration in that included a series of musical and artistic performances as well as special unveilings.

Beginning at 10 a.m. EDT at the Sir John A. Macdonald building on Wellington St. in Ottawa, the event began with powerful remarks from Albert Dumont, Ottawa's poet laureate and an Algonquin spiritual advisor, who also took part in the Canadian commemoration to Queen Elizabeth II eight months ago.

In his remarks, Dumont spoke directly about the impact of the Crown on Indigenous people, while voicing some hope for the future.

"From the eastern sky, a new dawn enters Indigenous sacred land. The memories of the oldest pines rise to greet its shimmering light. The trees sway joyfully in remembrance of a happy time long ago, before the power of the British sword destroyed the tranquility of gentle Turtle Island," he said. "A new day, showing itself on the horizon, bringing forth the heart of an honorable human being, who steps forward."

As he concluded, a drum beat swelled as Algonquin group Eagle River Singers performed an honour song. 

Although King Charles acceded to the throne upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8, 2022, the post-U.K. proceedings are a chance for Canadians to mark the occasion.

This is the first coronation to take place in 70 years, since Queen Elizabeth II’s ceremony in 1953. As a constitutional monarchy, Canada has proclaimed King Charles the head of state.

In her address to the Canadian crowd, aerospace engineer and champion of volunteerism Farah Alibay spoke about the value of community, generosity, small acts of kindness and empathy, while noting now meaningful it was to speak as a woman, the daughter of Indian immigrants, and as a queer person.

"The world is evolving, becoming more inclusive, and we are continuing to learn from the more difficult parts of our history. It is therefore with optimism and humility, that I have come to share this moment with you," said Alibay, who spoke about her experiences both growing up in Montreal, and then moving to England.

"The future is built by all of us, working together, supporting each other and sharing. This concept of service and community isn't unique to my family. It is one that is shared across Canada and the Commonwealth," she said.

SYMBOLISM STITCHED IN TO CANADA'S CORONATION EVENT

Saturday's celebrations were attended by prominent Canadians, past Order of Canada recipients, and supporters of causes considered important to the King.

Dignitaries from the Table of Precedence for Canada, including members of the King’s Privy Council for Canada were also present, including Privy Council President and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, Seniors Minister Kamal Khera, and Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Ahmed Hussen.

Speakers of the House of Commons and Senate, former governors general Michaëlle Jean and David Johnston, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre, Commissioner of the Northwest Territories Margaret Thom, and a few dozen other current and former federal politicians were there, too.

As were the high commissioners of commonwealth nations including the United Kingdom, India, New Zealand, Australia, Bahamas, Nigeria, and Rwanda.

Assistant deputy minister of sport at Canadian Heritage Emmanuelle Sajous, and director of machinery of government at the Privy Council Office Donald Booth emceed the event.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc later delivered an address on behalf of the Government of Canada.

"Canada has a long and rich relationship with the Crown. From our beginnings as a French colony, to today. The monarchy has been an integral part of our institutions and our identity," said LeBlanc. "The coronation of a sovereign is a high watermark in that relationship.

"Millions of Canadians are witnessing the coronation of Canada's sovereign for the first time, in a country that is radically different from the one that witnessed the last coronation, " LeBlanc said.

"But as Canada evolves, so do its institutions, and so does the monarchy. Today we will witness an event steeped in the traditions dating back to the Middle Ages. But tradition is not an impediment to modernity. By looking to the past, we can better understand our present and witness how we have progressed as a nation. It enables us to look to the future with optimism."

The celebration also included the singing of O Canada by the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir, and an "optimistic and triumphant" instrumental interlude by Prince Edward Island music group Inn Echo.

Slam poet Sabrina Benaim performed a piece called "To A Dreamer In A Modern World" and singer–songwriter Florence K performed a musical interlude. Both of these artists have a history of advocating for openness about mental health through their work.

A performance of the royal anthem by the Central Band of the Canadian Forces Serenade of Strings highlighted "the King’s life-long connection to the Canadian Armed Forces."

Ottawa's celebrations concluded with a 21-gun salute by the 30 Field Artillery Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery, on Parliament Hill.

Books of congratulations were available for attendees to sign at the ceremony, and guests were invited to attend an intimate reception afterwards. Muralist Dominic Laporte produced a work of art live throughout the event.

The event in the parliamentary precinct took place alongside free activities for families at Rideau Hall.

Over the weekend, the Peace Tower as well as other federal buildings in Canada's capital region will be lit emerald green in honour of the occasion.

KEY UNVEILINGS, NEW COIN AND BILL DESIGNS COMING

During the ceremony, a series of notable unveilings occurred.

Canada Post unveiled the new definitive stamp with an image of King Charles III to mark the coronation, continuing the 170 years of tradition of issuing stamps featuring Canadian monarchs. The new stamp features a portrait of the then-Prince of Wales, taken by photographer Alan Shawcross.

The Canadian Heraldic Authority revealed updated emblems to represent the change of reign approved by King Charles III: a new royal crown and royal flag.

The new Canadian royal crown features stylized maple leaves, and a wavy blue line meant to represent this country's waterways. The design also is meant to offer a nod to Indigenous teachings.

The new flag of the sovereign is a rectangular representation of Canada's shield of the coat of arms and also features maple leaves, as well as the royal emblems of the U.K. and France.

The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a new collector commemorative pure gold and silver coin set that features the royal cypher, King Charles III's personal monogram. These coins retail for between $34.95 and $4,199.95 and are only available while supplies last given the limited mintage.

The federal government also used the occasion to announce—keeping up with the tradition of the reigning monarch appearing on Canadian coins since the Royal Canadian Mint began production in 1908—that the Mint will design and place an effigy of His Majesty King Charles III on Canadian circulation coins.

The Bank of Canada will also be replacing Queen Elizabeth II's portrait on the $20 bank note with King Charles III "during the next design process." 

'LONG MAY HE REIGN': CANADA'S CONTRIBUTIONS IN LONDON AND BEYOND

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and a delegation including Indigenous and youth leaders took part in King Charles' coronation in London. Canada’s delegation also included Canada’s flag bearer astronaut Jeremy Hansen.

In a statement congratulating His Majesty, Simon noted that while so much has changed in the 70 years since the last coronation, including the Crown, "it continues to be an anchor for our robust and stable democracy and our diverse country."

"As we mark this wonderful occasion, I invite all Canadians to look back on the country we were, celebrate the country we have become, and engage in conversations about the country we want to be. On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to congratulate Their Majesties on this auspicious occasion. I look forward to continuing to support our Sovereign in his important work," Simon said. "Long may he reign."

Following the coronation ceremony in London, Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau had plans to attend a reception held by the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom, James Cleverly. Also on Trudeau's itinerary before heading home are meetings with New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak.

"Today, we ring in the reign of His Majesty King Charles III and reaffirm Canada’s enduring commitment to the Commonwealth. As we celebrate this momentous occasion, let us be reminded of our shared values of inclusivity, diversity, and respect for human rights as we work together to build a better future for all members of the Commonwealth," Trudeau said in a statement.

Trudeau said Saturday in recognition of King Charles III's "longstanding commitment to environmental protection and conservation" Canada will donate $100,000 to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Five RCMP Musical Ride members participated in the procession from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace, and a contingent of 45 Canadian Armed Forces, Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Special Operations Command, and the Royal Military College members took part in the coronation military parade.

In addition to Saturday's events, Canadian Heritage through the Canada History Fund is providing $275,000 to the Royal Canadian Geographical Society to help develop learning materials commemorating King Charles III's coronation and highlighting priority areas for Canada: the environment and Indigenous reconciliation.

Trudeau had previously announced Canada will award 30,000 coronation medals in the coming months to Canadians who have made "significant contributions to the country, a province, territory, region or community, or an achievement abroad that brings credit to Canada." 

With files from CTVNews.ca's Jennifer Ferreira

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