Every Victoria Day, as we celebrate the beginning of our Canadian summer, I am so aware of just how fortunate I am to be a Member of Parliament. My work allows me to experience the beauty and diversity of our city and across this truly wonderful country. June brings the always inspiring Luminato Festival, then the Dragon Boat Festival, and then the National Aboriginal Day celebrations, including my favourite — the Na-Me-Res Annual Traditional Pow Wow at Fort York. This year, St. Jean Baptiste Day will return to Toronto for a Franco-Ontarian celebration at Harbourfront on June 24th. PRIDE Toronto makes us all proud of our country’s leadership on inclusion and LGBTQ2 rights. Multiculturalism Day is June 27th and the highlight for me is always the endless variety of delicious food! (I still remember how bland Toronto’s food scene was before we really opened our doors!).
Canada Day will be spectacular this year. The Prime Minister has been very clear that Canada 150 will be celebrated in communities from coast to coast to coast all year long! Here in Toronto-St. Paul’s, we will begin July 1st with a sunrise ceremony to acknowledge the First Peoples who have lived on this land for millennia. As Gord Downie has said about the need for reconciliation: “We have 150 years behind us that we need to learn from, and we’ve got 150 years ahead, and we’d better just get to work.” In the afternoon, we will come together for a picnic on the grounds of Spadina House with live music, games and, of course, Canada-themed trivia!
In July, Toronto-St. Paul’s is home to the vibrant street party that is Salsa on St. Clair. The festival is now in its 13th year, and last year it drew over two million salsa lovers to our neighbourhood! Another favourite event that I never miss is the extraordinary King and Queen Showcase of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival — the costumes are truly works of art (and feats of engineering!). To wrap up the summer, we will have a caucus meeting in one beautiful part of Canada, and a cabinet meeting in another. Finally, I will head back home for the Toronto International Film Festival, which has been a part of my life since I married Peter O’Brian in 1979!
But this year is truly special. For Canada 150, passes are free for all Parks Canada national parks and historic sites (get yours now!) and the other projects are also well underway across the country. One of the most exciting is the Canada C3 expedition and ‘Students on Ice,’ a foundation that educates youth on the polar regions. The Canada C3 ship will depart from Toronto on July 1st, and travel to Victoria via the Northwest Passage over 150 days.
One more note about this summer! On June 2nd, I will celebrate my 20thanniversary as your Member of Parliament. I am so thankful for the experiences that this job has afforded me, and the inspiring people that I have met along the way. Most importantly, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and represent my community for the last two decades. Thank you all so much for your support and wise counsel in making Toronto-St. Paul’s the best riding in the country, and Canada the best country in the world!
With community members at the Canada Day 2016 Picnic at Wells Hill Park. For more information about this year’s celebration, please contact our constituency office.