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Canada’s 140th Birthday a Multicultural Celebration

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July 1st, 2007 marked the 140th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, whereby the existing British North American provinces were united in the federation of Canada. Now commonly known as Canada Day, the official establishment of the country has been celebrated on July 1st since 1867. Canada Day is an opportunity for all Canadians, whether born in Canada, or newly arrived, to recognize the opportunities that the country offers and to celebrate Canada’s multicultural heritage.

Built on a strong tradition of immigration, Canada’s steadily increasing annual immigration numbers are among the highest in the world. 254,400 newcomers were welcomed to Canada between July 1st, 2005 and July 1st, 2006, an increase of over 9,800 compared to the previous year.

Parades, ceremonies, and festivities across the country celebrated Canada’s distinct multicultural spirit. In the Montreal (Quebec) parade, there were dozens of proud contingents of cultural and ethnic community groups. The Filipino Association of Montreal, the Irish Heritage Association, and the Polish Canadian Congress were joined by Chinese-Canadians with dragon puppets, German-Canadians in lederhosen, and Danish-Canadians in Viking hats. A Vancouver (British Columbia) park hosted a multicultural performance of Indian, Arabic, and Persian song and dance.

Of the many community celebrations nation- wide, Ottawa’s Parliament Hill was the focal point of Canada Day festivities. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General Michaelle Jean addressed the thousands gathered there for the day-long celebration. The Governor General swore in 49 new Canadians at a special Canada Day citizenship ceremony, marking the 60th anniversary of Canadian citizenship. There were 34 such ceremonies across the country in which 1,700 individuals became Canadian citizens.

According to some recent polls, Canada’s multicultural society has a lot to be thankful for. Canada ranks among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of life expectancy, standard of living, literacy and education according to the U.N. Human Development Index. Most major Canadian cities rank within the top 25 most livable cities worldwide. A recent BBC polls suggests that even those who do not live in Canada recognize its merits, as Canada ranked at the top of a list of 27 countries in terms of global popularity.