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Ottawa celebrates Scottish heritage on Tartan Day

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Parliament Hill was a sea of plaid Sunday afternoon for National Tartan Day.

The celebration of all things Scottish saw a slew of performances from local pipers, drummers and highland dancers.

Officially marked by the Government of Canada, Tartan Day has grown more popular every year, adopted by diaspora around the world since the 1990s.

It was the capital’s 16th year celebrating the event since the holiday was brought to Canada in 1992.

The Sons of Scotland Pipe Band kicked off the afternoon with a few traditional songs – the pipes and drums quickly drawing hundreds of listeners.

For organizer and Pipe Major Bethany Bisaillion, her culture is one she is more than happy to share.

"I love the fact that people bring their kids out or even if they're just walking by and they stop and visit," she said.

"The people that have put their tartans on, it's just so meaningful and thoughtful."

Hammering away on the base drum front and centre was young Leo Perrakis. Having never touched the instrument, he was performing a routine he learned just last week.

"I joined late and just had one rehearsal, but I’m feeling pretty good," he laughed.

Highland dancers perform on Parliament Hill for National Tartan Day. Apr. 21, 2024 (Sam Houpt/CTV News)

Parents Gabrielle Weiler and Evan Perrakis were cheering from the sidelines. They soon got to join in on the fun as members of the audience were pulled in for some Highland dancing.

"I'm feeling great. That warmed me up a bit on this cold day," said Evan.

"It’s lots of fun and we’re thrilled to be a part of this," said Gabrielle.

"It’s my side of the family that’s got the Scot in it, so I’ve got my purple dance tartan on today."

The professionals from MacCulloch Dancers then took to the floor, tapping away complicated routines in both Highland and Celtic-Canadian Step styles.

"I’m relieved it went well and people enjoyed it," said dancer Isabella Bayne.

If there was anyone in attendance who was not already enraptured, that was quelled when the Corgi parade marched in.

In a matter of minutes, the stubby pups captured the hearts of the crowd, especially those done up in tiny tartans.

The corgi parade quickly captured the hearts of the crowd on Apr. 21, 2024 (Sam Houpt/CTV News)

For Bisaillion, she says she hopes people take away a newfound curiosity of the Celtic arts.

"Maybe their kids show interest in learning how to do some form of dancing or take up an instrument after a day like this, because it can be really impactful," Bisaillion said.

Resident Jean Roberth Souza said he was thrilled to see the cultural event take place.

"I live in Ottawa-Gatineau, but I love to get to know other cultures because we are here in a multicultural society that makes Canada," he said.

"That's Ottawa." 

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