My Defining Canadian Moment is:

Unity Rally Oct. 27 1995 – Place Du Canada, Montreal

By: Sven Kersting, Cambridge, Ontario

To me Canada is the practical application of a concept that tolerant people coming from widely different cultural and religious backgrounds can not only live together, but share the best parts of their own heritage to the betterment of a continually evolving society.

On October 27th 1995, two co-workers and I set-out for Montreal from Guelph ON at 3:00am. Our destination was the Unity Rally at the Place Du Canada. Canadians from all across the country had gathered to show the people of Quebec that we did not want them to separate.

We were there to demonstrate that a united Canada was one that included and embraced our French heritage. We were there to urge our Quebec brothers and sisters to vote “No!”

To say the rally had a festival atmosphere was an understatement—this must have been what the Woodstock Music festival was like. People who had never met were sharing sandwiches and laughter. Total strangers were hugging and high-fiving each other in spontaneous outbursts of emotional national pride. We met people from BC to Newfoundland while standing under a massive Canadian flag that made its rounds of the square.

When Prime Minister Jean Chretien mounted the stage, on my shoulders sat the six year old son of a couple that had flown in from Red Deer Alberta. Their own shoulders were full with their other children and they asked if I could lift their third to see our Prime Minister.

My pride in being a Canadian is reinforced in many different ways. It can be the most joyous of moments, such as when a Canadian team wins a hockey event in a global competition, or somber tidings when I learn that another Canadian soldier has given their life in the service of our country.

But the moment that will forever stick in my mind, the moment that my heart swelled and tears of joyous pride ran down my face was when those 100,000 voices united at the Place Du Canada to sing the Canadian national anthem in support of our most unique and diverse identity.

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