Advertisement

2020 Canada Day ‘unlike any other’ as celebrations move online, cancelled amid COVID-19

What Canada Day means to racialized Canadians
WATCH ABOVE: What Canada Day means to racialized Canadians

This year, Canada Day looks a little different — and probably a lot quieter — than in years past as officials across the country attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Many of the big public events and gatherings are cancelled or are being moved online, including the high-profile shows usually drawing in thousands to Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Read more: Canada Day: Canadian-made products to support in a pandemic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a brief address to Canadians on Wednesday and referenced the unprecedented nature of the current challenges facing the country amid the pandemic.

“This year is unlike any other but it’s certainly not the first time our country has celebrated this day in tough times,” said Trudeau, speaking following a brief appearance with his family at the Ottawa Food Bank’s community farm.

Story continues below advertisement

He referenced past celebrations of Canada Day during the Second World War, adding that the generation that fought those battles and sacrificed through those difficult times are now the ones younger Canadians are working to protect.

Trudeau also said the country must look towards the future and how it can do better on everything from support for seniors to reconciliation and countering racism.

Protests and celebrations held on Canada Day in Ottawa
Protests and celebrations held on Canada Day in Ottawa

“On this Canada Day, it is our turn. We must now restart and rebuild a Canada for the twenty-first century,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

“My friends, I know that together, we are ready.”

Read more: Canada Day 2020 goes virtual across B.C.

There will still be a number of different digital activities available on government websites and a streaming of the ringing of the Peace Tower bells, along with a virtual fireworks show.

Ontario still has strict limits on public gatherings, with no more than 10 people allowed at one time.

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau deliver Canada Day message
Justin Trudeau, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau deliver Canada Day message

In Ottawa, the cancellation of the annual pomp and pageantry on Parliament Hill resulted in a livestream with virtual fireworks at night. The usual ringing of the Peace Tower still went ahead, with all 53 bells ringing and two recitals streaming live.

Story continues below advertisement

In Toronto, police said that people had begun gathering at the waterfront to wait for a fireworks show that was cancelled over the pandemic.

Other provinces have different rules. In Alberta, for example, public gatherings of up to 200 people are allowed for an outdoor, audience-type event such as fireworks.

Canada Day at the Alberta legislature typically began with a pancake breakfast event that has since been cancelled amid the coronavirus. Several families did however come to stroll around the fountains, with some maintaining their visit as one of tradition.

“I think for us it’s family tradition. We associate the legislature grounds with being patriotic Canadians,” Cheryl Tanouye told the Canadian Press, explaining why she, her husband and their children visited the province’s legislature despite knowing there were no events.

Story continues below advertisement
What Canada Day means to racialized Canadians
What Canada Day means to racialized Canadians

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief public health officer, stressed though that people must still practice social distancing and that the virus “will not take a break because it is a holiday.”

Story continues below advertisement

In British Columbia, organizers at Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition hosted a “reverse parade,” where people stayed in their cars in a stationary route.

Canada in harmony: Calgary choir’s rendition of ‘O Canada’ honours multiculturalism
Canada in harmony: Calgary choir’s rendition of ‘O Canada’ honours multiculturalism

Spokeswoman Laura Ballance told The Canadian Press that classic festivities still went ahead such as a hockey game and dancers in Canada-themed costumes. About 4,000 cars showed up at the sold out event.

As of Wednesday, there were 104,253 confirmed cases of the virus in Canada while another 8,615 people have been killed across the country.

A total of 67,745 people have also recovered from the virus, while a further 2.9 million have been tested.

Worldwide, more than 10,600,000 people have contracted COVID-19 and another 515,000 have since died, according to a running tally kept by John Hopkins University.

Story continues below advertisement

–With files from the Canadian Press and David Lao