On Wednesday, Canada’s official birthday celebration went completely online for the first time ever due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
There were no live fireworks, no crowds, no gatherings, and no star-studded concert on Parliament Hill.
The Canada Day party usually takes place in Ottawa, with tens of thousands of domestic and foreign tourists descending on the capital to celebrate the day with music and family fun and with a dazzling fireworks show.
However, this year’s in-person festivities were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event organizers offered an online show that featured Canadian pop stars, including Avril Lavigne and Alanis Morissette.
Director of Communications for Tourism Ottawa Jantine Van Kregten said, “Canada Day won’t look like previous Canada Days, but there are fun ways to get out and celebrate.”
Van Kregten said, “Bike paths and beaches have opened in many regions, and Canadians are encouraged to have barbecues within their social bubbles and even a drink on a restaurant patio while respecting social distancing guidelines.”
To commemorate the day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited a farm operated by the Ottawa Food Bank. He harvested broccoli with his family while wearing a black facemask.
Through a video recording, Trudeau said, “The last few months have been hard, and on this Canada Day, we have to continue to be there for each other. We have lived through too many long winters not to help a stranger dig his car out of a snowbank.”
However, Canada Day faced pushback from Indigenous groups that started the #CancelCanadaDay campaign across the nation. They hosted an online anti-celebration on Wednesday featuring Indigenous activists and artists.
Organizers wrote on the Idle No More website, “We will not celebrate stolen Indigenous land and stolen Indigenous lives.” In Canada, the virus has affected more than 104,200 and killed over 8,600 so far.