Tis July is Canada's 150th Birthday. Celebration have begun in many meaningful ways across our city and thoughout Canada. Our 150th is to a high watermark in Canada's history, and a great promise for our future.
Looking back and looking around, what makes our city most proud? Tat is, what makes us GREAT? Yes, we are one of the largest cities in Canada, and a centre not just for the country, but a signifcant hub to the world. Our airport, for example, meets and greets about a million passengers each year, with flights flying to over 175 countries in the world!
But for Torontonians, the most signifcant statistic is the number of newcomers who have come (and continue to come) to the city over the years. Mirroring Canada, which is is often referred to as a land of immigrants because millions of newcomers have settled here and helped to build and defend our way of life, Toronto also started with settlers from abroad.
What is most signifcant is the idea that ever culture retains its own individuality. Tis goes back at least as 1937, when John Buchan, the frst Governor General of Canada said immigrant groups [in Canada] "should retain their individuality and each make its contribution to the national character."
Buchan's philosophy is carried forward in Canada's Multiculturalism policy, and lies at the heart of what makes Toronto great.
Te city of Toronto has been described as Canada's crown jewel of multiculturalism. What a great image! A sparkling, rich, colourful and precious treasure.
Toronto had many well-known neighbourhoods like Portugal Village, Greektown, Little India, Little Italy, and spread across the city are large communities with Chinese, Jewish, Filipino, Sri Lankan and West Indian residents. But our diversity isn't confned to distinct neighbourhoods. In this great city of ours, the residents speak over 140 languages and dialects, and over half of our residents were born outside of Canada. And yet, in most neighbourhoods, we shop, attend school, often even worship together as one community.
We could only cover a few in this edition. Choosing which ones was very difcult so please forgive us for what we had to leave out.
What is particularly remarkable about Toronto is the depth of our city's multicultural roots. For over 150 years, men, women and children have arrived in our city, sometimes with only what they could carry, because they knew that Toronto (and Canada) was a safe haven.
Te welcome that Toronto gave to its new residents goes back many years before we were even an ofcial city. Free slaves, fleeing the United States, crossed over into Canada following the American Civil War in the early 1800s; when only one other country would accept Hungarian immigrants fleeing Europe in the 1960s, Canada (and Toronto) opened it's arms. And in recent months, we've read and probably met some of the thousands of Syrian refugees arriving in our city
As we celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, let us celebrate all that makes our country, and our city great – our people! And our people come from all corners of the world.