Tony Lambert and his seven-year-old son watch the U.S. presidential inauguration at the University of Calgary on Tuesday. ((CBC))

A crowd at the University of Calgary cheered, high-fived and wiped away tears after watching Barack Obama be sworn in as the new U.S. president Tuesday.

About 250 people gathered in front of a large TV set up in the food court of MacEwan Centre to watch the inauguration.

Tony and Sheryl Lambert took their children, DeMarco and Giovanna, out of school for half the day to watch the historic event together.

"It wasn't enough for us to see the reruns of it. We needed to be in the moment because it was just too important to miss," said Sheryl Lambert, who grew up in Jamaica.

"Even though Obama is in the U.S., it still affects people like us everywhere," she continued.

"So it's great to see that glass ceiling be broken and it says now I can tell my son, you can be the president, you can become the prime minister."


A crowd gathers on the University of Calgary campus to watch the inauguration on a large TV in the food court of the students' centre. ((Tom Spear/CBC))

"I'm mostly excited that I get to see Barack Obama and he mostly inspires me and he mostly looks like my dad and my brother," said daughter Giovanna Lambert, wearing her school uniform.

The nine-year-old admitted not paying much attention in the run-up to the U.S. election but said she did watch Obama on election night.

American Melissa Giovanni, a geology professor at the school, wiped away tears as she listened to Obama's speech.

"It's really amazing that we just elected the first black president, given America's history, and I think after living through the last eight years when especially recently, it's really felt like everything has gone to hell. You know, we might be OK after all," she said with a laugh.

Tony Lambert noted there was no protest or controversy surrounding the inauguration.

"It's because of the unity, and it's what Barack Obama brings and what he means not only to the U.S. but to Canada and to the rest of the world," he said.

In Edmonton, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach was also closely watching the inauguration. Alberta is in a good position to weather the global economic crisis and to help the U.S, he said.

"To improve the economy, build the economy, build the number of jobs, the president requires affordable energy. And we are a safe, stable, secure supplier of energy."

An inauguration party was also held at the Kilkenny Irish Pub in Calgary's northwest for Americans and people with dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship on Tuesday night.