MONTREAL - Video greetings from people around the world were added to the cheers of throngs of Canadians on Thursday as Barack Obama made his first visit outside the United States as president.
The best-of compilation of greetings is the product of a Canadian website that solicited the well-wishing from around the globe with the aim of giving it to Obama.
Montreal-based jointhewave.com had collected more than 500 videos from 32 countries of people doing "the wave" in support of Obama's historic ascent to the White House.
The best submissions are featured in a four-minute montage set to the music of Montreal band YTHEBAND and presented on DVD to Obama inside a hand-carved wooden box that was made by a project participant in Kenya, the homeland of Obama's father.
Along with the DVD is a booklet of photographs of the organizers and a note explaining the initiative, said project director Emmanuel Stralka.
While few people were able to get anywhere near the U.S. president during his brief visit to Ottawa on Thursday, the website commissioned John Parisella, a Montreal communications consultant with close ties to the Obama administration, to deliver the video to one of the president's aides.
"We were really, really fortunate to have him on our team so he was able to get in touch with the right people over there," Stralka said.
While he understands the U.S. economy likely tops the newly minted president's agenda, Stralka said he hopes Obama will watch the video and realize many people around the world are counting on his vision of change.
"There are a lot of people outside the U.S. who are also stakeholders," he said.
"He represents a lot of stuff for a new generation and that generation really wanted him to understand that, to let him know that they are there and that they are behind him."
About a fifth of the videos were submitted by Canadians but others come from as far away as Brazil, France, Australia, Spain, Vietnam, India, Egypt and Kenya.
About 60 per cent of the videos were submitted to the website by individuals, although a fair chunk of the filming was done by staff and partners of Pixman Nomadic media, the tactical marketing solutions company behind the project.
Within 10 days of its launch on Jan. 10 - 10 days before Obama's inauguration - the site had already received some 20,000 visitors from 100 different countries. About 125,000 people are featured in the videos.
Stralka said he hopes to keep the site going for the first year of Obama's presidency to allow people to voice their views about the job the U.S. commander-in-chief is doing.
"It will be good to look back and see where we've come from and where we are a year from now," Stralka said.
"Are people still so happy? Are they still so enthusiastic? Are they still so fired up? What is the message tone now? Did they change?"