Justin Trudeau opens Greek Independence Day parade in Montreal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added another title to his name Sunday, as he took part in Montreal’s annual Greek Independence Day parade.

While it wasn’t the first time the prime minister took part in the festivities, this year he was named Grand Marshal.

The parade has been a Montreal tradition for over 40 years and attracts thousands of spectators, who flock to Park-Extension to take in the sights and sounds.

Georges Rigas, who was dressed in traditional costume, said he’s been coming to the parade since he was 3 years old.

This year, he was marching with his dance troupe.

For Rigas, the parade is about celebrating the storied history of a young nation.

“Our country is only about 200 years old but our history goes back thousands of years,” he said. “We went through so much. It’s one story out of so many that we have.”

The parade is something that most Greek Montrealers look forward to every year.

“It’s a beautiful thing to witness,” Rigas said.

“The parade represents solidarity, represents the Greek people, represents really our pride.”
For Demetre Costopoulos with the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, the parade is about remembering the sacrifices of those who came before.

“The parade is regarding our Independence Day in 1821 from the Ottoman Empire,” he said. “We have to remember these people. They fight for us to be free.”

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Independence Day celebrated

The nation celebrated the 47th Independence and National Day yesterday with a fresh vow to root out militancy from the country and build a happy, prosperous "Sonar Bangla" free from poverty, reports UNB.

On the occasion, different socio-political organisations across the country paid tributes to the martyrs and veterans of the 1971 Liberation War and remembered the martyrs through various programmes.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid tributes to the martyrs of the Liberation War by placing wreaths at the National Memorial in Savar in the morning.

The president was the first to place a wreath at the altar of the National Memorial at 5:57am. He was immediately followed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

After placing the wreaths, the president and the prime minister stood in solemn silence there for some time as a mark of respect to the memories of the martyrs of the 1971 Liberation War.

A smartly turned-out contingent drawn from Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Force presented a salute on the occasion while the last post was played on bugles.

BSS adds: Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, ministers, advisors, mayors of Dhaka north and south city corporations, parliament members, chiefs of the three forces, freedom fighters, foreign diplomats and civil and military officials were present on the occasion.

Later, flanked by senior leaders of the party, Hasina, also the president of Bangladesh Awami League, laid wreaths at the National Memorial on behalf of her party.

On her return from the National Memorial, the premier paid homage to Father of the Nation by placing wreaths at his mural in front of Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi in the capital.

Then, she stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memory of Bangabandhu, the architect of the independence.

Awami League advisory council members Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed, presidium members Begum Matia Chowdhury, advocate Sahara Khatun, engineer Mosharraf Hossain and Dr Abdur Razzak, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader, Food Minister Qamrul Islam, and AL Joint Secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak were present among others.

The Speaker and Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah also paid tributes to Father of the Nation by placing wreaths at his mural.

Besides, families of Bir Shreshthas (the highest military award of Bangladesh), wounded freedom fighters, members of the diplomatic corps, leaders of different political parties, social, cultural and professional bodies, and people from all walks of life also placed wreaths at the National Memorial in the morning.

The Independence and National Day rally of children and juveniles was held at Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday morning.

While addressing the rally, Hasina urged guardians and teachers to make concerted endeavours to build a generation of good moral character and integrity in order to prepare them for taking future leadership of the country.

She witnessed the march past of smartly turned out units of school students and took salute. She also enjoyed attractive displays of the school students on different themes on the Liberation War.

The gallery of Bangabandhu National Stadium was decorated with portraits of Bangabandhu, four national leaders, Bir Shresthas, photographs of the prime minister and natural beauties of Bangladesh.

The premier greeted all freedom fighters.

Like the previous occasions, the prime minister sent flowers, fruits and sweetmeats to the war-wounded freedom fighters at Martyred and War-wounded Freedom Fighters' Rehabilitation Centre (Muktijoddha Tower-1) on Gaznavi Road at Mohammadpur.

Every year, March 26 brings the most tragic reminiscence of the history's blackest episode that heralded a nine-month bloody ordeal from the night following March 25, 1971 in achieving the long-cherished independence on December 16, the same year at the cost of a sea of blood.

In the wake of the military crackdown, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who became the undisputed leader of the then Pakistan following the massive victory of his party, Awami League, in the 1970 general elections, declared independence of Bangladesh at 00-30 hours on March 26 (the night following March 25) in 1971.

The great leader also called upon the people to build a strong resistance against the Pakistani occupation forces. The Pakistani military junta, in a bid to stop the legitimate movement of the Bangalees, arrested Bangabandhu on that night following his declaration of independence.

They then took him to the then West Pakistan and kept him in a prison for the entire nine-month period of the Liberation War.

Bangladesh emerged as an independent and sovereign state on December 16, 1971 with the surrender of the Pakistani occupation forces, who killed three million innocent Bangalees, perpetrated atrocities on two lakh Bangalee women and burnt down lakhs of dwelling houses across the country during the nine-month war.

On the eve of the Independence Day, the president and the prime minister issued separate messages, calling upon the nation to uphold the spirit of the War of Liberation to fulfil the dreams of the valiant freedom fighters, who embraced martyrdom for the cause of their beloved motherland.

The day is a public holiday.

The national flag was flying atop all government and private buildings while streets and important city intersections were decorated with national and multi-coloured miniature flags and festoons.

National dailies brought out special supplements while Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television, private radio stations and television channels are airing special programmes highlighting the significance of the day.

Special prayers were offered at all mosques, temples, churches and other places of worship across the country seeking divine blessings for the eternal peace of the departed souls of Father of the Nation, four national leaders, martyrs of the War of Liberation and all other patriotic sons of the soil.

UNB also adds: BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia also paid tributes to the Liberation War martyrs placing a wreath at the memorial in the morning.

Teachers, students and employees of Dhaka University, led by Vice-Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, placed a wreath there in the morning.

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