Thousands of community members gathered on Dundas Place to attend Canada Day London in celebration of the country’s 152nd birthday on Monday.
The streets surrounding Budweiser Gardens were closed to traffic and packed with food trucks, a stage, a craft beer garden, an interactive kids’ zone, artisans and vendors, a synthetic ice rink, cupcakes and more.
The gathering was filled with Canadian pride.
Abd Alfatah Twakkal and his family were enjoying the festivities downtown, all dressed in red and white.
Twakkal told 980 CFPL that he and family are proud Canadians who hope that others understand how blessed they are to be living in this country.
“I love this country because the diversity that exists in this country is really wonderful,” Twakkal said. “We don’t find this in many places in the world, so we’re actually very fortunate to be in a place like Canada, and I’m very proud to be a Canadian.
“We need to be grateful for the wonderful things that we enjoy in this great country.”
Victoria Goldsack and her family were also having fun at the event. She tells 980 CFPL that there’s so much to love about being Canadian, but being free feels best.
“There’s just so much freedom to be who I want to be, to do whatever I want to do,” she said with excitement. “I just feel so amazing being a Canadian!”
On the big stage, Mary Lou and Dan Smoke performed their Water Song in hopes of spreading the message that everyone deserves access to clean water.
Mary Lou tells 980 CFPL that she and her husband have visited many schools over the last 15 years, and that her message is beginning to catch on.
“Last year on World Water Day, a teacher contacted us and she said ‘Dan, I want you and Mary Lou to hear this.’ There was 350 kids from the school singing the water song. I was very emotional, my work is paying off.”
Mary Lou says the song has also taught non-Indigenous children about the culture and history of Indigenous people.
“Those kids are remembering the teachings that we’re giving them, and they’re not all native kids, they’re mostly non-native kids. So they’re learning about our tradition and about how we live, and how we’ve lived, and how it’s not portrayed in the history books.”
Mary Lou adds that she’s on a mission to “get those history books rewritten” by continuing to educate and help youths in hopes that future generations will learn to understand and appreciate Indigenous history and culture.