More than 15,000 students and staff take over Winnipeg's Investors Group Field for Canada 150 celebration
Pembina Trails school division hosted massive Canada 150 celebrations at the stadium
More than 15,000 students and faculty packed into Winnipeg's Investors Group Field for a massive Canada 150 celebration Wednesday — one organizers from Pembina Trails School Division think is one of the largest school-based celebrations of its kind in the country.
Tara Towns, an 18-year-old student from Shaftesbury High School, said the large-scale school celebration was more than just a pep rally.
"What a great celebration and, you know, you got to get together like this to show the kids that we can put together such an amazing event and they can be part of something so big, and then celebrate in a way that really makes sense with how much our country has done and how amazing it really is," said Towns.
The event included school floats highlighting different aspects of Canadian history and performances from the Aboriginal School of Dance, school choirs, and a band made up of more than 2,200 students from band classes across the division that performed O Canada.
Students also heard speeches from Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and the Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon, and a statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The school division also organized a discussion with people from the local Indigenous community about reconciliation.
Pembina Trails School Division superintendent Ted Fransen said it was important to bring students from the entire division together in one place.
"We are a diverse community at Pembina Trails. We have students from around the world," he said.
"We're a melting pot, if you will, and yet a salad bowl. We're proud of our diversity and we wanted them all together, just like a happy family would be at a gathering."
Fransen, who is himself a first-generation Canadian — his mother was a Second World War refugee — said it was important to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation by bringing students together to celebrate and share the message of what it means to be Canadian.
"The message is to celebrate our heritage and to say that our work isn't done, that Canada is a great country — one of the best in the world, maybe the best — but it could get better and together we're going to make it better," said Fransen.
That sentiment was echoed by Prasansa Subedi. The Grade 12 student from Fort Richmond Collegiate came to Canada with her family in 2002, when she was two years old, from a Nepali refugee camp. She spoke to the large crowd about her family's journey here and what being Canadian means to her.
"If Canada hadn't opened its doors to us, we might still be there and that's why I'm so appreciative, because it's given us such a strong foundation for a fresh start to life," said Subedi.
The 17-year-old, who plans to attend university in the fall, said it's important that Canadians don't take for granted what it means to be able to live here.
"We have so much peace and freedom here, whereas in other parts of the world, people might not even think that type of peace exists in the world," said Subedi.