Saturday May 3, the entire Sierra Leone community in Ottawa gathered with family and friends to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the country’s independence. Hosted by the Sierra Leone Community Association, the special occasion was held at the Margaret Rywak Community Building, under the tutelage of the organisation’s Chairman, Monty Domingo. The festivities were graced by the presence of the Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Sierra Leone, Washington DC, Alhaji Ibrahim Sorie Conteh. He gave an inspiring speech tracing the evolution of the country as a British colony, through the years of unrest and civil war, to the present day where the country is regarded by the international community as one of the most peaceful countries in the world. Other important guests included former Canadian Minister of Defence, David Pratt, who is the Honorary Consul for Sierra Leone in Canada, and United Nations staffer Dr. Lansana Gberie and his charming wife Karima, who had come all the way from New York to join the celebrations. There was food, music and laughter a-plenty, with party guests dressed in their most resplendent cultural attires and enjoying what turned out to be one of the most festive events witnessed by this reporter. But there was also time to learn about the wonderful and innovative scholarship program funded by the association for girls in various parts of the country.