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Expats ‘ecstatic’ for Obama visit

While it seemed that all of Ottawa was caught up in Obamamania Thursday, the day was extra special for Americans living in the nation’s capital.

While it seemed that all of Ottawa was caught up in Obamamania Thursday, the day was extra special for Americans living in the nation’s capital.

“We’re ecstatic that he was elected president, and that he’s here,” said New York native and Ottawa resident Larry Rousseau, who organized the Canadians for Obama Rally at the First Baptist Church.

“This is a celebration,” Rousseau said. “It’s really to partake in the spirit of President Obama.”

Earlier in the day, Rousseau was among the thousands of people gathered at Parliament Hill hoping to catch a glimpse of American President Barack Obama.

While the Ottawa-Gatineau region is home to hundreds of members of Democrats Abroad Canada, hundreds more from as far as Toronto and Hamilton boarded buses to come to Ottawa Thursday, hoping to see the president, or at least be a part of the festivities.

“I think this is a historic event,” co-chair of Democrats Abroad Canada for Ottawa and Gatineau Carolyn Farquhar said.

“This is the first time that Obama has visited Ottawa, and we welcome him here as Canadians,” said Farquhar, who is originally from Massachusetts.

Ottawa-based poet Oni, the Haitian Sensation, was one of the few who got to watch Obama step off Air Force One late Thursday morning.

“It was very tight security, but I got a glimpse,” said Oni, who read a poem commissioned for Obama’s visit at the rally. “And it was phenomenal. The Governor General’s foot guards came to greet him and he and (Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean) were smiling at each other. Two black leaders together — it was powerful. I was moved to tears.”

Following the rally, the group walked down to the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street and then to the Laurier Bridge in a display of unity, Rousseau said.

“I think this is a wonderful day for Canada,” Democrats Abroad Canada chairwoman Adrienne Jones said. “For the last eight years, we had an administration that ignored Canada.”

Canada’s relationship with the United States is “an incredibly important one,” said Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar.

Dewar said Obama has reminded people “of the change that can happen.”

 
 
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