In 2000, the Ontario Government instituted German Pioneers Day in an act of parliament proposed by Kitchener MPP Wayne Wettlaufer. Since then, the day has been celebrated across the province by German-Canadians and others, but none more vigorously than in Kitchener (formerly Berlin) and Waterloo, the home of Canada's largest German-Canadian community.
Each year, the celebration is staged at Kitchener's City Hall,with hundreds of citizens and dozensof local and provincial dignitaries attending or sending congratulations. This year was no exception as the Pioneers Day organizing committee, chaired by Gerhard Griebenow, provided a packed program including four choirs (German Language School Concordia, St. Mary's, Transylvania, Concordia), and the Transylvania Club brass band. History professor Kenneth McLaughlin (University of Waterloo) spoke on the great contribution of German settlers to the region over the past two centuries, and Concordia Club President Werner Schlueter described the lengthy tradition of German choral and ensemble music since the mid-nineteenth century. Each year, special awards are made to German-Canadian individuals, families or organizations that have played a major part in founding or furthering the rich and productive society that Kitchener-Waterloo has become. This year, the four German-speaking local churches were honoured, St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church (Maryhill), St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church (Kitchener), St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church (Waterloo), and St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church (Kitchener).