Canadians around the world prepare to celebrate Canada's 150th
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses for a selfie with attendees at Brundage Point River Centre during the Canada Day Kick-Off and Ice Cream Social, in Grand Bay-Westfield, N.B., Thursday, June 29, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/James West
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, June 30, 2017 8:40AM EDT
If Rahel Bailie still lived in Vancouver, she would likely poke fun at the Canada 150 festivities or steer clear of them altogether.
Now that she's lived in London for more than three years, however, Bailie said she's relishing the chance to celebrate her homeland and share that with her new friends.
Bailie, a digital and content strategist, said she bought a Canada 150 shirt and maple leaf shoes at Giant Tiger during a recent visit to Canada specifically to wear them at a day-long celebration in Trafalgar Square.
In a way, being abroad makes it more acceptable to be earnest, she said.
"I decided, to heck with it, don't have to be blase, there's nobody around -- it's like dancing in your living room," she said.
"You're giving yourself licence to feel a little bit of unadulterated joy in your heritage and where you came from."
Hordes of people are expected in Trafalgar Square on Canada Day for a public party hosted by the High Commission of Canada, a family-friendly event capped off by performances by the Polaris Prize-winning Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and the Toronto punk band PUP. A private organization has also planned 150 after-parties across the country for late-night revellers.
"We think this is going to be an opportunity for people who either know about Canada and want to come celebrate that or who are curious about Canada and want to find out more about it," said Canada's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Janice Charette.
"Whether it's sentimentality, interest or pure want-to-have-fun, there will be something for everyone."
Similar parties are also being held in cities across the world, many of them organized by expats.
Some 500 are expected to pack the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood for what organizers believe will be the largest Canada Day celebration in Los Angeles history.
The event will feature Canadian beers and poutine and performances by Canadian stars such as Maestro Fresh Wes, according to the Southern California chapter of Canadians Abroad.
"I'm excited just to meet people," said Tim Chan, one of the group's board members.
"I think moving to L.A., no matter where we move from, it's always a stressful experience, it can be a little overwhelming at times. There's a sense of community when you meet fellow Canadians here and it makes you realize the world is quite small."
In Hong Kong, which has one of the largest Canadian expat populations in the world, the day coincides with a national holiday marking the city's repatriation to China in 1997, meaning both countries are commemorating milestones.
An afternoon celebration organized by the Canadians in Hong Kong club is expected to draw up to 100 people and will feature games and a poutine bar, said Lilly Ng, the club's co-founder.
"I think the festive spirit will definitely be higher this year," Ng said in an email.
"I think it's important to celebrate Canada 150 and/or Canada Day whether or not I'm in Canada," she said. "In today's political climate, I think Canadians have a lot to be proud of. We come from a safe and clean nation with universal health care, cultural diversity and tolerance, freedom to live as we see fit, and much more."
Hearing others around the world praise Canada and its reputation has helped some expats get in a more festive mood.
"I feel like I've become more patriotic since leaving the country," said Allison Dunnings, who is planning to go to the Trafalgar Square event with her dog and a friend.
"When you live abroad people have such warm thoughts about Canadians and such nice things to say about Canada that I've actually become even more proud to be Canadian."
Showing that pride is part of the appeal of the Canada Day celebration, she said. But there are also more mundane reasons.
"We have heard that there is going to be Tim Horton's, so that is a huge reason that we are going to make our way -- to find coffee and a donut and hopefully a Timbit for the dog."