As America’s first black president is sworn in, thousands of Canadians hoping for global change will be cheering him on.

Barack Obama will take the U.S. presidential baton from unpopular outgoing President George W. Bush on Jan. 20, inspiring celebration from Edmontonians.

“His election shows the progress mankind has made,” said Augustine Maran, an African-Canadian helping to organize an inaugural gala.

Saturday's event is being held in celebration of what Maran feels is the best testimony to Western democracy.

Edmonton supporters have high hopes for America's 44th president.

Maran is hopeful that Obama's promise to pull American troops out of Afghanistan in 16 months will get Canadian soldiers out of harm's way.

“It’s really unfortunate that a lot of young Canadians are dying in the war,” Maran said. “I hope Obama will use diplomacy to help minimize the number of casualties or number of soldiers in battle.”

Obama has gained massive support from neighbours to the north, many of whom followed the U.S. presidential campaign closer than the Canadian federal election in October.

“He's inspired hope in the future, and his message resonated well across the border,” said political scientist Chaldeans Mensah.

“Canadian politicians have been lacking in their ability to gain confidence and don’t have the charismatic quality he has.”

In fact, Obama’s first steps on foreign soil as president will be in Canada, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Saturday.

Mensah said the level of celebration in Edmonton will be based on hope for a new level of co-operation and unity between Canada and the U.S.

The gala will be held at the Canadian Druze Centre (14304 – 134 Avenue). Tickets are $25 and available by calling (780) 278-3540.

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