Canada’s 153rd Birthday

6 August 2020

by Mr. Kim P. Butler, Acting High Commissioner of Canada to South Africa

Just like millions of people around the world, this year Canada celebrated a #StayAtHome birthday!

For all of us at the High Commission of Canada in South Africa, Canada Day is an opportunity to celebrate a country that is close to our hearts and a place that many of our colleagues and friends call home. It is a time for us to recall our history and diversity, our identity and our culture, shaped by the Indigenous peoples of Canada, our francophone culture, and by the many immigrant communities who have settled in Canada over the decades and who represent more than 50% of the population of Canada’s largest urban centres like Toronto and Vancouver.  

Although we could not get together in person this year, we still celebrated this special day together through our virtual Canada Day celebrations on our social media platforms. As with previous celebrations, we displayed different facets of Canada and shared inspiring, touching and captivating moments from Canadians across the globe.

This year has been challenging for people around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a serious impact on health systems, economies and our lives—particularly for the most vulnerable, including women and girls, the elderly, and many who are marginalized and living in difficult conditions.

I am proud that Canada is working with countries around the world, including governments and partners from all sectors, to prevent, detect and respond to the pandemic and to support those affected. South Africa has been a key partner in these efforts, along with other partners in the region and across the continent.

 Here in South Africa, Canada is providing US$ 1 million funding to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to support the acquisition, installation and certification of laboratory equipment for mobile COVID-19 diagnostic laboratories. Canada is providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, with a contribution of 400,000 “N95” masks and funding to support the deployment of first responders. And we are supporting our partner municipalities in the Eastern Cape to reinforce their capacity to provide services to their citizens during the pandemic.

Canada has contributed 1 million ZAR to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in support of the Each 1 Feed 1 food distribution network that supports communities who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In addition, Canada is working with South African partners to address gender-based violence, a problem that has become a crisis, and as the President acknowledged recently, has further intensified during the ongoing lockdown. We are funding women’s rights organizations around the country, and bolstering the provision of essential health services especially for women in vulnerable communities.

On behalf of my foreign ministry, Global Affairs Canada, I also wish to take this opportunity to thank the governments of South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Mauritius and Madagascar for helping us with special efforts to assist Canadians to make their way home.

Thank you to all of you – Canadians and friends of Canada in government, private sector, international organizations, civil society, cultural and academic organizations, media, and in all networks, with whom my team at the High Commission of Canada works with each day. In working together, we advance issues that matter to our respective countries, we continue to strengthen trade and investment, we work to improve governance and ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment, and we ensure essential services to our citizens – consular and visa services, allowing people to move between our countries. You are our partners and friends in this part of the world, and we look forward to continuing our work with each of you.

We will get through this together.