Canada Day festivities are virtual this year.

Canada Day festivities are virtual this year.

COVID-19 reshapes Canada Day celebrations from big parties to online shows

The 53 bells of the Peace Tower will still ring today

OTTAWA — A different kind of Canada Day has dawned across the country, with large celebrations in many parts of the nation replaced with backyard barbecues and digital events due to COVID-19.

The pandemic has led to the cancellation of high-profile events like the annual pomp and pageantry on Parliament Hill in favour of online offerings to keep crowds from gathering.

Instead, the Ottawa shows will be streamed at midday and in the evening, followed by virtual fireworks as part of a buffet of digital activities Canadian Heritage has curated.

The 53 bells of the Peace Tower will still ring today, with two special recitals streamed live.

In other parts of the country, crowds may be able to gather for actual fireworks displays, including in Alberta.

On Tuesday, the province’s chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that up to 200 people could gather for audience-type outdoor community events such as fireworks and festivals.

“Celebrate Canada Day safely,” she tweeted. “Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay (two metres) apart.”

Heading into Canada Day, the country had 103,918 reported cases of COVID-19, including 8,566 deaths, based on figures released Tuesday by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

In his statement on Canada Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touched on the various issues that have come to forefront because of the pandemic, such as the need to ensure “every senior has a safe place to live” after reports of appalling conditions in long-term care homes subject to outbreaks.

“The last few months have been difficult for all Canadians, but throughout this pandemic, we have been there for one another,” the statement says.

“We are neighbours helping neighbours, small businesses being there for their communities and their staff, Armed Forces answering the call to help protect our most vulnerable, and doctors and nurses keeping our families healthy. Because that’s what it means to be Canadian.”

He also says the country still can better itself, including having a Canada “where we say no to racism, injustice, and hate.”

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