Parliament Hill was filled to bursting on Friday afternoon as thousands of red-and-white-clad revelers showed up to mark Canada Day 2016 -the country’s 149th birthday.
This Canada Day also marks Justin Trudeau‘s first as prime minister of Canada, and he greeted the crowds enthusiastically on the Hill. Trudeau was accompanied by his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, and two of the couple’s three children.
“To be able to stand here and to say thank you for the trust you have given me, I have to say is a little bit overwhelming,” Trudeau told the crowd. “We are a country where everyone is equal, we as Canadians are united.”
Today, let’s celebrate this amazing place we call home. Happy Canada Day from coast to coast to coast!https://t.co/wgcsNmi0cq
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) July 1, 2016
The celebrations on Friday included the usual singing of the national anthem and a fly-by performance by Canada’s Snowbirds. But for the first time, a traditional aboriginal smudging ceremony took place to start the day’s events.
Trudeau noted in his speech that the first step in reconciliation will be for all Canadians to learn more about indigenous culture.
Musical acts included Kardinal (who doubled as host of the celebrations), Thunder Bay electronic artist Coleman Hell, indigenous pop-rock group Indian City and Montreal’s Beatrice Martin, more commonly known as Coeur de Pirate. “We live in a country where we don’t have to be scared of who we are and (what) we’re really about,” Martin told the crowd.
About to host our nation’s celebration for Canada Day! Greatest country in the world where they have hip-hop host w/the PrimeMinister! — Kardinal (@KardinalO) July 1, 2016
There were even some furry friends on hand.
— Shirlee Engel (@ShirleeEngel) July 1, 2016
Abbas Suliman, a newly arrived Sudanese national, said he was overwhelmed by the Canada Day celebrations.
“I feel very happy and wonderful,” he said. “People are very nice, easy-going, friendly. I’ve never found people in the world like this, they’re very unique.”
Ottawa resident Nicole Loreto said she has noticed an increased diversity in the crowd over the past few years, and that’s a good thing.
“I think that’s what makes us unique and special. And I hope we can keep that peaceful spirit, because that’s what makes us strong and Canadian.”
(With files from Monique Muise/