Canada’s 145 birthday party in Pierre-Elliot Trudeau Park in Cote Saint-Luc was a great event with entertainment and activities to suit all interests. There were several highlights throughout the day. notably the Citizenship Ceremony, the dedication of the baseball field in memory of Expos great Gary Carter and, of course, the traditional fireworks display.
I find the Citizenship Ceremony to be a particularly emotional and moving event. 36 new Canadians from 19 different countries were sworn in by Citizenship Court Judge Gilles Duguay. Many of these immigrants spent many years planning for this moment, leaving family and hardships behind to arrive in Canada and begin the application process to become Canadian.
Judge Duguay said, “Immigration is the future of Canada. You are Canada!” The jovial and personable judge went on to explain that these new Canadians have found the best gift of all: Canada. ”Give a lot of yourselves,” Duguay said. ”You can be anything you want to be here.”
Mayor Anthony Housefather exclaimed with great pride, “We are all equal as Canadians. Whether you just arrived this year, 20 years ago or your family has been here for 200 years, regardless of the religion you practice, the language you speak or sexual orientation, we are all equal under the law.”
“Learn both official languages,” the mayor emphasized. “Make an impression in Canada. It is because of you coming to Canada that we have become one of the greatest countries in the world. Make this citizenship document something more important than a framed certificate on your wall,” he said with heartfelt emotion. ”Make it warm your heart every day your lives.” Great applause followed Housefather’s typically eloquent remarks along with tears of joy from many of the new citizens.
Senator Judith Seidman, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “We (Canada) welcome more immigrants than any other country as a proportion of our population. Welcome home!”
Also attending for the first time was the Consul of Guatemala who was very moved by the ceremony and appreciative of the warm and welcoming atmosphere in Cote Saint-Luc. Ms. de la Roca noted that she felt a similar sense of community during her five year posting in Israel.
Many Expos baseball caps and shirts were worn by die hard fans seeking the return of major league baseball to Montreal. Former Expos star Warren Cromartie was on hand to pitch the campaign which received great enthusiasm by the crowd.
The entertainment was sensational, featuring “Vintage”, an oldies rock ‘n roll band, “Airport 77″, a disco beat band, as well as a special performance of excerpts from Moulin Rouge and Grease by the CSL Dramatic Society (see Cllr. Mitchell Brownstein’s video recap below).
The Gary Carter baseball field dedication ceremony was webcast live and featured a superb video presentation by CSL Public Affairs and Communications Director, Darryl Levine.
The crowd was well looked after with dozens of volunteers and staff from vCOP (volunteer Citizens on Patrol), EMS, Parks and Recreation, Police, Fire, Public Security, Public Works and more. Leading the troops was rookie manager of Leisure and Community Services, Danka Janosz, P&R Director David Taveroff and his right arm veteran manager, Harold Cammy, Public Works Director Patrick Raggo, Police Commander, Sylvain Bissonnette, Public Safety Manager and Director, Jerome Pontbriand and Jordy Reichson. Volunteer leaders included EMS Chief Sheldon Goldberg and vCOP Supervisor Susie Berkson Schwartz. Event co-chairs were Councillors Dida Berku and Steven Erdelyi. Many thanks as well to all the generous sponsors.
Read and see more:
Mike Cohen’s Canada Day review
Mitchell Brownstein’s recap of Canada Day in CSL: