The federal government is spending  $17.5 million on community events and a "national musical celebration" to honour Canada's 150th birthday in 2017.

Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly made the announcement in front of a string orchestra at Toronto's Daniels Spectrum Theatre Monday morning. 

Joly talks about her plans for Canada's 150th birthday1:04

The federal government is chipping in $10 million to the Community Foundations of Canada for its community fund project, which will give grants of up to $15,000 to stage events in communities across the country.

"The community fund for Canada will use its extensive network to distribute microgrants that will support community projects throughout the country in thousands of communities," Joly said at the announcement.

"The community fund for Canada's 150th [birthday] will support projects that build vibrant, healthy and engaged communities, inspire deeper understanding about our communities and our country and encourage participation and community initiatives connected to the sesquicentennial," said Laurel Carlton with Community Foundations of Canada.

Canada 150 Joly 20160314

Federal Heritage Minister Melanie Joly joins members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Toronto on Monday while announcing $17.5 million in community and arts funding for Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)

Joly said the government will work with the private and not-for-profit sectors to raise money.

Former Research In Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie is partnering in the project to make sure the private sector is involved.

"People who love their country can change it for the better," Balsillie said.

"Canada can and should build an innovative 21st century economy and then use that prosperity to play a great role in the global stage. but that's only possible by active participation of all citizens in their communities."

National musical celebration

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is getting $7.5 million from the federal government.

"The TSO will be working with various orchestras throughout the country to highlight the work of iconic Canadian musicians, as well as new and emerging artists, creating a soundtrack as rich and diverse as our country," Joly said.

"Our project is called the Canada 150 musical mosaic. Its purpose is to highlight and showcase Canada's musical talent, including over 36 orchestras from communities across the country," said Dave Postill, the orchestra's vice-president of marketing.

"We're going to work with the Polaris Music Prize, diverse Canadian artists and members of the music industry, and bring together all of these folks under the leadership of the TSO to create a project that's national in scope."

In April 2015, the previous Conservative government set up a $210 million Canada 150 Fund for the sesquicentennial celebrations.

Joly told Rosemary Barton,host of CBC TV's Power and Politics, the government is working within that financial framework as it plans more events, such as holding citizenship ceremonies in "iconic places" across the country.

Other Canada 150 projects announced by the federal government include free admission to national parks and "Sesqui," a travelling, interactive art exhibit inside geodesic domes.


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Community Foundations of Canada community fund project would give grants of up to $50,000 to stage events in communities across the country. The number has been corrected to $15,000.
    Mar 14, 2016 6:33 PM ET