“Let us celebrate the celebrations of everyone,” Deepak Obhrai tells Parliament

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Speech by Hon. Deepak Obhrai, PC, MP

On a Private Member’s Motion to proclaim the 1st day of the Lunar Year

as the beginning of the Spring Festival

June 1, 2016. House of Commons, Ottawa

 

Hon. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary Forest Lawn, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise up during spring and talk about the spring festival.

As Canadians, we all love festivals. Most of our festivals, due to the weather, are in summer. We should not forget the traditions that have come from other parts of the world to Canada today, which is home to millions of Asians who live in this country.

I want to commend my colleague for highlighting the contributions of Asian-Canadians to the society of Canada. I am delighted. I want to thank my hon. colleague from Richmond for giving me this spot to speak and highlight more about the spring festival.

In Asia, there are spring festivals. The spring festival comes from the countries of Southeast Asia. I have a very large community of Vietnamese-Canadians living in my riding who celebrate spring festival. It is a joyous occasion that we always look forward to. We look forward to it not only because of celebrating with them, but we look forward to understanding the great achievements they have made.

When we go down to the spring festivals and cultural shows, it is just outstanding. It is absolutely outstanding. Do not forget about the great food and the 10-course dinners that we get, which my hon. colleague just enjoyed in Vancouver. He greatly enjoys the cultural heritage of the Chinese community. It does not matter whether it is from Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, or wherever, it is an honour to be there.

I must give credit, as the cultural events that are performed by these great groups are outstanding and a great heritage to Canada. While we can say that this is a Vietnamese show or a Chinese show or an Indian show, or whatever, ultimately it boils down to the fact that they are Canadian shows. They are done by young Canadians.

It is great, and we are honoured that in this great land of ours, without going to distant countries, we can see the diversity and the cultural heritage. Spring festival is part of that. I would be remiss if I did not say that I think it is a great thing to organize, and to recognize our fellow Asians on this occasion.

Similar to spring festival, another great festival that comes from Asia is the Vaisakhi celebration. It is celebrated in China and other countries. The Vaisakhi is a celebration when the harvest is done and people want to go out and celebrate. It is a great spring celebration that we can see across this country, with great parades taking place.

On the other hand, in India they celebrate Holi, which is throwing colours onto each other. I have been a victim of that colour throwing. Again, it is part and parcel of the festival, and part and parcel of Asian heritage. Indeed, it goes without saying that it is a great thing that we in Canada celebrate the diversity of our history.

The hon. member talked about the Chinese head tax and the recent apology made by the Prime Minister about the Komagata Maru, all of those things. In putting all of this behind us as we look forward and move forward, these festivals bring the richness of the culture and push the past away.

It is quite a great pleasure and honour to be supporting this motion and recognizing the contributions made by Asians in this country. I will just say in closing, let us celebrate the celebrations for everyone. Let us celebrate our land and move on.

To everyone I say, enjoy the spring celebrations!

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