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Ontarians mark Canada 150 with citizenship ceremony, community celebrations

Last Updated Jul 1, 2017 at 7:06 pm EDT

Ontarians marked Canada Day with a host of street parties, parades and a welcome to dozens of new Canadians at the legislature.

Premier Kathleen Wynne helped welcome 150 Canadians who were granted citizenship as part of Canada 150 celebrations.

Wynne said the greatest strengths of Ontario and Canada have always been the diversity of its people, and the willingness of immigrants to the province to try to build a better society than the ones they left behind.

She said the contribution of Indigenous Peoples – who she noted are not immigrants – were more significant than any others.

“Without their knowledge and friendship, and the treaties that were signed, Canada could literally have never come into being,” Wynne said.

The ceremony at Queen’s Park was one of 55 similar ceremonies held across the country on Saturday – from Whitehorse, to St. John’s, NL.

Festivities to celebrate Canada Day were to take place at Queen’s Park until late Saturday evening.

Canada Day parties ran across the province. One such celebration was held at the Baitul Islam Mosque, an Ahmadi Muslim mosque in Vaughan, Ont., north of Toronto.

Lal Khan Malik, national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at of Canada, said that Canada Day is of particular importance to Ahmadi Muslims. Many of those who came to Canada did so as refugees fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan.

“The greatest gift that Canada has provided to our members is the freedom to believe in whatever they believe to be their faith – and then to practice it,” Malik said.

“We value it so much. And we are grateful to the Canadian people and to Canada for providing us with this freedom.”

The celebration has occurred for at least 10 years, Malik said, but this year is expected to be the largest in its history.

The world’s largest inflatable rubber duck, docked in Toronto, was open to the public on Canada Day.

Despite occasional heavy rain, thousands gathered along Toronto’s waterfront, munching on food from sidewalk vendors and grabbing photos of the giant yellow duck. It has loomed over waterfront buildings from its anchorage since early Friday morning.

Bogdan Kruts was one of many to pay it a visit.

“I’m a big believer that every bathroom has to have a small rubber duckie, a yellow one,” he said.

“This is a bigger one and it’s [in] a big bath, I guess,” he said, laughing.

Lauren Wu was also drawn to it. At six stories, the duck loomed over nearby buildings.

“I just wanted to see the duck,” she said.

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