Nobody does Canada Day better than Côte Saint-Luc. From the time I was young child, growing up in the community I have always called home, the July 1 celebrations were a major highlight for me. There was a time when all of the action in the city was centered around Kirwan Park, sandwiched between Wentworth and Blossom avenues. I lived right next door. With the construction of the much larger Centennial Park, eventually renamed after Pierre Elliott Trudeau, all activities switched over there.
When Mother Nature cooperates, as she did this year, there is no better place to be. It gave me great pride as a city councillor to be at Trudeau Park for our action-packed evening. Proceedings began witha Canadian Citizenship Ceremony, presided over by Judge Marcel Tremblay. The former Montreal city councillor was just appointed to the position last week. He swore in 32 new Canadians from 11 different countries. Councillor Mitchell Brownstein, an immigration lawyer, brought this type of ceremony to our Canada Day festivities a few years ago. It is a perfect fit.
Next was the annual Human Rights Walkway ceremony. The Human Rights Walkway was inaugurated in 2000 and is dedicated to men and women who, through their actions, have promoted and defended human rights. This year we honoured those who spoke out and fought for Jews oppressed in the former Soviet Union, Syria, and Ethiopia. Fellow councillor Glenn J. Nashen (seen unveiling the plaque with me below) co-chaired this initiative with me. We were both very involved in these movements in the late 1980s via Canadian Jewish Congress. I worked at as national director of communications while Glenn was a volunteer and co-chaired the Jews in Arab Lands Committee. It was nostalgic to have lawyer Stan Cytrynbaum with us at the ceremony. Stan chaired the Ethiopian Jewry Committee and put his heart and soul into the movement.
Go to the Côte Saint-Luc website to see a terrific documentary prepared by our Director of Public Affairs and Communications Darryl Levine. In addition, Darryl posted highlights from the actual ceremony, which you can see here.
This was the 10th plaque unveiled on the walkway. Many of the past honourees have been people who put their lives on the line in many parts of the world. By selecting a movement of people—many of them local—we wanted to highlight the fact anyone, anywhere can help those in need, even from the safety and comfort of our suburban homes in Canada. Professor Irwin Cotler, Stan Cytrynbaum, and Judy Feld Carr—an unassuming former music teacher and grandmother of 10 who was responsible for the rescue of 3,228 Jews from Syria over 28 years—are three examples of a movement that helped rescue hundreds of thousands of people.”
Here is a video of the ceremony, via CSL TV:
As for the overall Canada Day ceremony, there were thousands of people at the park to enjoy fun and games, music and performances. There were a variety of food kiosks setup and of course, everything culminated with a spectacular fireworks display –perhaps one of the best we have seen in years. I must say there is nothing quite like standing on the stage with the mayor and city council and looking out into the audience and a sea of people. Mayor Anthony Housefather was correct when he told those with us that night who do not live in Côte Saint-Luc to consider moving here. We are a vibrant community, one that will soon have a $17 million aquatic complex and a new housing development at the Cavendish Mall.
Thanks to Dan Laxer of CJAD Radio who was back as our master of ceremonies. Congratulations to co-chairs Mitchell Brownstein and Ruth Kovac and our staff at the Parks and Recreation Department.