Friday was not your typical Canada Day retreat in downtown Ottawa, although at times it felt close to it.
The red-and-white-clad crowd was back, though they had dispersed at sites off Parliament Hill and scattered wearing masks reminiscent of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
As always, many of those celebrating July 1 in the heart of the nation’s capital had strong motivation to stay there.
For Edmonton resident Ruby Kennedy, it was about sharing an experience with her five-year-old grandson, Jerry, who lives in Ottawa, loves the Peace Tower and Parliament Buildings and has been meeting his grandmother face-to-face since the pandemic. Didn’t see front hit in 2020.
“Oh, my God, this is special to me,” said Kennedy, sitting with Jerry and his daughter on the Great Lawn of Parliament Hill. “I’m 70 years old, he’s my youngest, youngest grandson, and it’s so special to be able to share Canada Day with him in Ottawa.”
Joining the festivities this year, along with newcomers to Canada, tourists and families honoring the traditions of July 1 were those who say freedoms are under attack in the country.
Driven to the city by this belief, few were indistinguishable from other Canada Day revelers. A middle-aged couple, standing quietly on Wellington Street, moved from St. George, Ont. to Ottawa, a small community near Brantford.
“We need to stand up for freedom. The prime minister is taking away a lot of our freedom, and forcing people to do things they don’t want to do. You haven’t been forced to do anything like that.” Must go do what you don’t want to do,” said the man, who, like the woman, refused to give his name.
She said she wants to remove Canadian border restrictions for unvaccinated people, noting that her daughter, who lives in the United States and falls into this category, has to enter the country if not for compassionate reasons such as funerals. prevented from doing. “This is wrong.”
Others protested loudly with signs and literature and megaphones. On Friday afternoon, he gathered hundreds of people to march his grievances in the main part of the city, some of whom had been captured during the “freedom convoy” months earlier.
“The Patriots are back, baby” declared a march leader.
Between the bells of the Canadian flag, wind horns, “Freedom” and “Liberte”, the procession stretches several blocks in length from Wellington Street and through Centretown.
As march leaders cried out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, called for the release of jailed “freedom convoy” protest leaders Pat King and Tamara Licht, and declared they were “holding the line” and ending all mandates. Should, they generated a mixed reaction. Spectators lined the streets.
Some greeted them with applause, others nodded, turned or gazed in amazement
Some greeted them with applause, others nodded, nodded or stared in amazement.
“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s just overkill. We have freedom. We still have freedom,” one viewer told this newspaper.
“I’m glad I can live in a country that allows this to happen, like the police are here … (and) it can happen,” said another.
March participant Daniel Frederick stopped by to speak to some spectators who were clearly not impressed by the performance, and was asked to call the authorities responsible for COVID-19 restrictions rather than face the public health challenge. What should have been done
“I think the best thing to do is to do something that doesn’t hurt so much on each side. Because I had two coworkers who beat drug addiction, and then the lockdown happened, and they went back to drugs.” Went into addiction, and now they’re not here,” said Frederick, 31, a midland-based man.
He said he had come to Ottawa to examine the energy of the independence movement, and that “it’s been a mostly positive movement so far, I would say 87 percent positive from my experience.”
At Lebreton Flats, the site of most official celebrations imposed by the Canadian Heritage Department and the Parliament Hill area’s lack of guard presence, the prime minister told the crowd that Canada was strong “because of our diversity” and that “we are this great country”. All are equal members of the U.S.,” while Governor General Mary Simon urged Canadians to work toward a more inclusive society, “one where we can be who we are, without judgment, where everyone is related.”
As he has been in previous years, Dominic Tremblay was a huge hit, especially with children. It was the eighth year, apart from two years, when celebrations were driven online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that a Quebec City resident dressed as Captain Canada to spread birthday wishes.
“I do this because I was in the military for 17 years, and I’m very proud of my country. I’ve traveled a lot meeting people all over Canada and abroad,” Tremblay said. “It’s great to be here just for Canada to celebrate a birthday. And, you know, all our differences in Canada make our country stronger.”
Canadian Heritage counts 13,000 people entering Lebreton Flats Park as of 4 p.m., a number that grew to reach the site’s 30,000-person capacity for evening shows. Numbers for its other major festival venue, Gatineau’s Place des Festivals Zeeby, were not immediately available.
As of Friday evening, it appeared that those who had come to the capital to protest rather than to party had spent the day on the line the police had taken pains to formulate before their arrival: protest, but do so by law. And do so calmly and expect action on any hate messages or business attempts.
A police officer was allegedly strangled to death at the National War Memorial on Thursday night and four people were arrested.
In a tweet dated Friday at 5 p.m., the Ottawa Police Service issued 284 parking tickets, 79 towed vehicles, three tickets for occupying a highway and unlicensed mobile phones related to Canada Day events and demonstrations beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Matched two tickets for refreshment vehicles.
Sway Moody and Jake Jurgenite, 20 and 22, were hailing from Langley, BC Moody is on his way to become a social studies teacher and want to see the national capital, but said he’s too afraid to come to the city. Moody explained that Jurgenite’s sister lives in the area, and that capturing the “Freedom Convoy” in winter was an emotionally upsetting experience for her.
“I was so heartbroken … that I (probably) wasn’t able to come and see all of Canada Day because we were worried about any sort of threats to the protest … but I’m so happy that It’s really under control,” she said.
Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Asha Nsimir has been coming to the city for Canada Day every year since her arrival in Canada from Ethiopia in 2017.
“I belong to society now, I belong to Canada now,” Nasimir said.
“It’s like living in a new culture. I have to celebrate Canada Day every year… if I don’t come, it means I don’t belong here.”
For Marcia McNeil, coming to town after a two-year pandemic break in celebration was a return to her family’s July 1 tradition.
It’s not the same as before, McNeil said, when the party largely took place on Parliament Hill, rather than west on the Lebreton Flats and Zeeby sites. Still the resident of Arnapreer was having fun. His hope for the day?
“I hope I see a great firework,” she said with a laugh.