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01 July 2020 12:36

Canada Day Canada Day

Virtual Canada Day citizenship ceremony celebrates nurses, care workers

OTTAWA — A different kind of Canada Day is dawning this morning, with large celebrations in many parts of the country replaced with backyard barbecues and digital events. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of high-profile events like the annual pomp and pageantry on Parliament Hill in favour of online offerings to keep crowds from gathering. Instead, the Ottawa shows will be streamed at midday and in the evening, followed by virtual fireworks as part of a buffet of digital activities Canadian Heritage has curated. On Tuesday, the province's chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that up to 200 people could gather for audience-type outdoor community events such as fireworks and festivals. "Celebrate Canada Day safely," she tweeted.

Heading into Canada Day, the country had 103,918 reported cases of COVID-19, including 8,566 deaths, based on figures released Tuesday by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Canada Day is a national holiday which is celebrated on July 1. It marks the day, in 1867, when three separate colonies joined to become a single entity within the British Empire called Canada. The holiday was originally called Dominion Day but was renamed in 1982 under the Canada Act which meant Government in London could no longer make changes to Constitutional law, allowing full Canadian sovereignty. Canada Day marks an important milestone on the country's journey to independence.

It is derived from the date that colonies Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined to become one kingdom. Not only was there calls for a national railroad system and common defence policy, but people wanted a solution to end fighting between the French and British who were both trying to colonise in the region. On July 1, 1867, the British North America Act was passed and the Dominion of Canada was established as a self-governing entity within the empire. By the early 1980s, come Canadians were informally referring to the holiday as Canada Day. However the day was officially renamed after a private member's bill was passed through the House of Commons on July 9, 1982, two years after its first reading. After the British North America Act was passed, accounts at the time detail that church bells were rung in celebration in Toronto and bonfires and fireworks were set off.

Today, Canadians celebrate it with outdoor public events in the form of parades, festivals and carnivals. Canada marks its 153rd birthday on Wednesday but celebrations will be different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority of Canada Day events in Toronto will be virtual. That means everything from pancake breakfasts, arts festivals and house parties to big-name concerts and fireworks displays will be online. Mayor John Tory says Canada Day, despite the pandemic, is still "an ideal time" for city residents to show pride in their country.

"Although this Canada Day is unlike any other, I encourage Toronto residents and visitors to celebrate our wonderful country on July 1 by enjoying everything that the city has to offer," Tory said in a news release on Tuesday. All Canada Day events that would have been held in person in Toronto have been cancelled, based on the recommendations from Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health. Unlike previous years, there will be no real fire works at Ashbridges Bay to bring Canada Day to a close. Nathan Phillips Square will not be the site of Canada Day events this year. City of Toronto's Canada Day 2020 The City of Toronto's Canada Day 2020 will feature four livestream segments on its YouTube channel.

At 10 p.m., the CN Tower Canada Day Light Show will livestream a 15-minute visual display set to the music of Canadian artists. @Home in East York Canada Day Celebration At 6:30 p.m., the East York Toronto Canada Day Festival is encouraging residents to have an out-front dinner party with their neighbours but to make sure they physically distance. At 7:30 p.m., the festival is encouraging people to sing O Canada and bang pots to show appreciation for front-line workers. Food Truck'N Canada Day Festival The Food Truck'N Canada Day festival features: Alijandro's Kitchen, Jerk Brothers, Beavertails, The Arepa Republic, Funnel Cake Dream, Busters Seacove, El Bosco. Canada Day Virtual Fireworks This event, organized by Canadian Heritage, is being called an "augmented reality experience for mobile devices." More information can be found here. Nineteen people from 13 different countries will become new Canadian citizens Wednesday in a special Canada Day ceremony. Read more: Coronavirus reshapes Canada Day celebrations from large festivals to online shows Canada Day citizenship ceremonies are a hallmark of the holiday, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced them online — since April 1, there have been over 1,000 virtual events. Wednesday's event is also expected to highlight something many Canadians have learned during the pandemic: the crucial role immigrants play in staffing Canada's health-care system. Among the new citizens are nurses and personal support workers, including Sweeny Karande and Omair Imtiaz. The next nine years were full of new beginnings as she journeyed from India to Ontario to Nova Scotia and then the Northwest Territories, where she now works full time as a registered nurse. There will be another new beginning this Canada Day: Karande is set to join 18 others in swearing the oath to become a Canadian citizen. Canada Day citizenship ceremonies are a holiday tradition, but this year, the COVID-19 pandemic means the celebrations are going digital. The marquee Canada Day group event will be streamed on YouTube, and is expected to feature remarks from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former governor general Adrienne Clarkson. People ranging in age from six to 66 will take the oath, representing 13 different countries, the Immigration Department said. While they're all united in their new citizenship, some have another bond: they work in health care. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the role new Canadians play in the health-care system. She would find equally welcoming communities, she said, when she arrived in Halifax for nursing school, and again when she moved up to Hay River, N.W.T., to take a full-time nursing job. "This was my end goal, and finally I am a nurse and I'm getting my citizenship — this is really awesome," she said. Omair Imtiaz is also becoming a citizen on Canada Day, a feat he also attributes in part to the kindness and guidance of many near strangers along the way. "I can never count my blessings enough for what Canada and its people have given me," he said. India had its own experiences with British colonialism that linger to this day, she said, but to be confronted with the harmful effects on Indigenous Peoples in Canada shocked her.