On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for harmony amid a potentially divisive national holiday, using his official Canada Day address to call for a deeper commitment to Canadian values such as hope and kindness.
The Prime Minister urges Canadians to recommit to the country’s values, which include respect, hope, and kindness.
PM said the 155th anniversary of Canada’s confederation provides an opportunity to embrace the values represented by the Maple Leaf, adding that the flag is more than a symbol.
“It’s also a promise — a promise of opportunity, a promise of safety for those fleeing violence and war, and a promise of a better life,” he added.
An unprecedented level of security greeted locals and visitors alike in the national capital on Friday for the first in-person Canada Day events in Ottawa since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.
Today we celebrate the country we love said PM Justin Trudeau
Throughout the downtown core, police were visible, with groups of officers walking the streets and cars framing the entrance to the LeBreton Flats Park, where the main celebrations are set to take place. Before entering, visitors had to walk through airport-style metal detectors and have their bags searched.
Donna Marzolf and her 12-year-old daughter Alexis Livingstone were among the first to arrive, having traveled from Calgary to take part in the celebration and secure front-row seats to the main stage.
Alexis, dressed in a Maple Leaf T-shirt and carrying a small Canadian flag, said she was especially excited to see her twin sister Sophia perform O Canada as part of the Calgary Children’s Choir at the festivities.
Their mother described the day as a celebration of “peace, safety, and freedom, though that has a negative connotation right now.”
Karen MacDonald flew into Ottawa from Ladner, British Columbia.
“To be here in person is completely thrilling to me,” she said. “Many people in the city are dressed in red and white and carrying flags. It hurts my stomach with pride.”
Along with those celebrating the holiday, a convoy of protesters — many of whom are dressed in Canadian flags — are planning events in Ottawa. However, the National War Memorial, which had a large crowd Thursday evening, was quiet early on Canada Day as a handful of visitors took photos.