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Aurora marks Canada Day apart, celebrating virtually together

July 9, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Lambert Willson Park, usually the scene of more than ten hours of revelry each July 1, was unseasonably quiet on Canada Day as Aurorans marked the 153rd anniversary at home or in their social bubbles due to the global pandemic.

But the party rolled on in a virtual way thanks to the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Town of Aurora, and the Aurora Museum & Archives.

Virtual fun included a host of returning favourites that have become a hallmark of local celebrations, including family-friendly craft activities, a performance from the Fire Guy, and a virtual fireworks display, while the digital platform allowed for the development of new activities such as interactive cooking demonstrations.

While a parade down Yonge Street was hard to replicate in a digital environment, some of Aurora’s proud traditions continued online, including a reaffirmation of citizenship, led by local leaders, including area Members of Parliament, Mayor Tom Mrakas and Council members – and a Council-led rendition of O Canada.

The morning kicked off with words from Mayor Tom Mrakas, who took a moment to recognize the present situation.

“As we celebrate our proud nation’s birthday, I would like to take the time to celebrate our essential service workers and I hope you will all have the chance to feel the community’s appreciation for all that you do,” he said.

Words of welcome were delivered to communities across the country by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who said Canada is made up of people from “all walks of life who strive to live up to our shared values of peace, equality and compassion; people who believe in the strength of our diversity.”

“We’re at our best when we’re looking out for one another because that is who we are,” he continued. “As we celebrate, let’s remember what truly unites us all: our determination to leave a better world for our children, our belief in a more just society for all, and the idea that our better days are yet to come.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also joined in the words of welcome.

“We live in the greatest country in the world and today is about celebrating everything that makes us proud to be Canadian,” he said. “I am proud to call this province and this country home. Thank you for everything that you do to make Ontario and Canada a great place, especially during these extraordinary times.”

Provincial and local leaders came together to deliver Canada Day greetings to the Aurora community and leading the way was Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the Queen’s representative in Ontario.

“How much I wish I were there with you in person today, but we’re in the midst of a pandemic and we are keeping each other safe,” she said. “From my past visit to Aurora, I know you will be coming together as a community to celebrate this wonderful country – inclusive and caring.”

In the lead-up to Canada Day, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP Leona Alleslev handed out Canada Day-themed lawn signs to constituents who came to her Oak Ridges office.

Reflecting on Canada Day, Ms. Alleslev said it is a day to come together to celebrate who we are as Canadians.

“Not only do we gather with friends and neighbours to celebrate the strength of our communities, but we also take the time to take a moment to remember what defines us and how our past has shaped us,” she said. “Although our July 1 events will be different this year due to social distance, they are no less important. The challenges we face today will not defeat us; they will only make us stronger as we find innovative ways to overcome them.”

Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen added Wednesday was a time to “celebrate the contributions Canadians have made throughout our history.”

“We’re a country that knows a Canadian is a Canadian,” he said. “We look after each other and generosity is an essential part of our identity. Today, let’s celebrate what it means to be Canadian and hold those values close and recommit to ensure that all Canadians are treated equally. This day, Canada Day, I am especially proud of the strength of Canadians to come together to support one another in a time of crisis.

“From my family to yours, I wish everyone in Aurora a wonderful day of celebration with their family and friends, with a special gratitude to our frontline health workers and emergency first responders, and the members of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Recording their messages from Queen’s Park and delivered outside the Town’s official Canada Day program through various digital and social media platforms, Members of Provincial Parliament also sent patriotic messages to the community.

“Today, we celebrate the 153rd anniversary of the birth of our great country,” said Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott. “As Canadians, we have much to be proud and thankful for. I am incredibly fortunate to call Canada home – today and every day. Although celebrations look different this year, I wish you a happy and healthy day of celebration.”

Added Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MPP Michael Parsa: “Today, we celebrate the country we all call home and the amazing people that make up this great country. From the beautiful natural landscapes to the strength of our diverse…communities, Canada is truly the best country in the world.

“This year, Canada Day is unlike any other, but we still have much to be thankful for. Whether you’re watching the fireworks virtually or spending time with family and loved ones, Canada Day is a reminder of the strength and unity of our nation. During these unprecedented times, we have seen individual businesses and frontline workers, from coast to coast, step up and help exemplify the Canadian spirit.

“This Canada Day might be a little different, but our Canadian spirit is still the same.”

By Brock Weir



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