Canada Day symbolizes complexities of Canada

21:36, July 02, 2010      

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More than 100,000 people crowded into downtown Ottawa on Thursday to celebrate the 143 years of Canada Day, a symbol of Canada's creation as a confederation uniting two British colonies and a province of the British Empire into a single country called Canada and its self-government.

Few other countries would celebrate the anniversary of their independence by inviting the sovereign of their former colonizer. But Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is, because of political compromises made over the years, still Queen of Canada. She is likely to be Queen of this country for the rest of her life.

Certainly, the elderly monarch, who turned 84 this year, can draw a crowd. The Canada Day crowd in downtown Ottawa, a city of 1 million people, was twice as large this year as normal. Many people in the crowd wondered if this tour would be the last for Elizabeth II and her 89-year-old husband Prince Philip.

The Queen, however, seems quite energetic and is following a grueling tour schedule that would challenge a much younger person. While she visited Ottawa, she was involved in preparations for her 60th anniversary on the throne in 2012, and she is expected to return to celebrate that milestone.

In her speech to the Canada Day crowd in front of the Canadian parliament buildings, Queen Elizabeth spoke of her long life and strong connection to Canada.

"During my lifetime, I have been a witness to this country for more than half its history since Confederation," the Queen said. "I have watched with enormous admiration how Canada has grown and matured while remaining true to its history, its distinctive character and its values."

"This nation has dedicated itself to being a caring home for its own, a sanctuary for others and an example to the world," she said.

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