Saturday 15 June, 2024

Canadian Multiculturalism Day: A Personification of Canadian identity

By Joy Osiagwu

Arshida, Noorina, and Fatahna Karimi, three sisters from Syria, are a living testament to the power of cultural diversity. Adorned in their traditional Syrian regalia, they radiate pride as they pose for a snapshot of their rich heritage. Their journey to Canada was not without its challenges, but they have found solace in the freedom to share their culture and personal stories despite the diverse perspectives they encounter. On Saturday, June 15, Leading Ladies Canada, a champion of diversity and inclusion, hosted Multiculturalism Day on Parliament Hill. The event was an excellent platform for immigrants like the Karimi sisters to showcase some of their countries of origin’s rich heritage.

Indeed, it was a vibrant celebration of Canada’s rich cultural tapestry, with many Canadians from diverse backgrounds coming together to share their unique stories and experiences. This reporter saw a personified reflection of the Canadian identity, celebrating the individuals and families who contribute to Canada’s innovation, creativity, and social unity. These values are of great importance to the host of the event and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, MP Yasir Naqvi, who joined the celebration online and lauded the enduring presence and profound contributions of the First Nations communities, which serve as a reminder of the deep roots and resilience of the people’s culture.

MP Naqvi also recalled the systemic barriers and discrimination still inherent in the system and called for a strong will to address the challenges of creating a Canada where “everyone feels included, respected, and valued.”

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, MP Anita Vandenbeld, celebrated the contributions of various communities as advocates and catalysts for change. “Your resilience and courage have advanced the principles of equality and diversity,” she added.

MP Anita Vandenbeld delivered a goodwill message at the event

MP Anita Vandenbeld delivered a goodwill message at the event.

City Councillor Rawlson King spoke on the same theme of multiculturalism, which promotes inclusivity, tolerance, and respect for all individuals regardless of their backgrounds. “It is, therefore, my pleasure on behalf of the Mayor, Mark Sutcliffe, and Ottawa City Council to recognize the important contributions of Leading Ladies Canada towards celebrating Multiculturalism and enriching intercultural dialogue, creating a world where diversity is not just accepted but celebrated.” He noted.

City Councillor Rawlson King addresses the participants

Above: Tchan-LGlam Ensemble Fashion. Bottom: Chinese Age of Elegance Qipao Group

A panel of discussants anchored by Black History Ottawa’s Sarah Onyango added immense value to the night with a thought-provoking conversation on critical issues about community leadership and community building while focusing on newcomers and cultural sensitivity.

Panelists L-R: Madina Mashoon, Sarah Oyango, Julie Mohammed, Aquilas Dapaah, Rehana Hashmi, Dr. Helen Tang and Samira Hoghoughi

These issues bothering on diversity and inclusion are the essence of the organization for Marie-Ange Ahinful, founder, and Chief Executive Officer of Leading Ladies Canada.

Marie-Ange Ahinful, Chief Executive Officer-Leading Ladies Canada

The crowning glory of the event was a parade of fashion from diverse communities in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, showcasing the rich heritage of various communities.

Fashion Parade by African Kids
African Chorus Divine Rendering African songs

Leading Ladies Canada began by empowering Black Women and Youth in Canada. Subsequently, it expanded to include women from various cultural backgrounds to reflect the true Canadian mosaic. Click on the link to watch the highlights of the fashion show in video format.