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Chris Hadfield at Yonge-Dundas Square for Freedom Day

Retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has spent his fair share of time gazing at celestial stars, but on Wednesday afternoon he was firmly grounded at Yonge-Dundas Square, speaking to the rising stars of the future — thousands of young students.

Hadfield touched down at the square to help celebrate Freedom Day.

He joined Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander in a ribbon cutting ceremony, and both were expected to take to the podium to speak to the nearly 4,000 students in attendance.

Freedom Day is sponsored by The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre (FSWC), and according to a release by the group it “was created to encourage students to celebrate Canadian rights and freedoms,” as well as “commemorate the life and legacy of Simon Wiesenthal.”

Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter, died in 2005 at 96. He was nominated for a Noble Peace prize in 1985.