Two years of activities of WLCU-BC Council:President report (By Henry Zarifeh)

World Lebanese Cultural Union – BC Council

AGM Meeting

Vancouver April 7, 2013 

Activities for the past two years

 Dear members,

I would like to thank you for your presence today and for your support throughout the past two years of my presidency.  Here below, you’ll find a summary of the activities that we participated in and those that we have completed during my two-year term

BC Council meeting April 2013

 as a president of the WLCU-BC council that represents the LCS of BC (Vancouver chapter), the CLCA (Victoria chapter) and the Youth Chapter.

Lebanese Emigrant International Day– March 5, 2011:

Under the auspices of Mr. Farid Makarem  – WLCU Past World Vice President who came from California accompanied by his wife Amira to attend this event.

The World Lebanese Cultural Union – BC Council    and the Lebanese Youth Descent

Celebrated the Lebanese Emigrant International Day by screening Safar Barlek movie at the Image Theatre – Simon Fraser University Burnaby, British Columbia

 This is the first international celebration of its kind-outside Mexico- to pay tribute to the emigrant and mark this International Emigrant Day. More than 225 people from the Lebanese and Arab communities and their friends attended this event

 The ceremony was opened by the children soccer team dressed in their soccer uniform and marched proudly carrying the Lebanese and Canadian flags.. Elie Zammar and Alain Kahwaji from the youth took the stage and welcomed everyone.  Mr. Farid Makarem gave a very nice speech encouraging the youth to continue with similar events and not to forget their culture. A thank you note was addressed to LCS President George Rouhana for his dedication to the society.

 Mr. Farid Makarem was presented by an award of appreciation. The movie was followed by a reception in which appetizers and drinks were served for all people present at this event and a cake was cut by Mr. Farid Makarem, George Rouhana, Alain Kahwaji and Elie Zammar and me.

.Simon Fraser University: Public Dialogue  – Septembre 14, 2011

Diaspora Contributions to Development: Opportunities and Lessons Learned

SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Vancouver

An invitation by SFU was received to attend the Public dialogue about the diaspora. I, with Jamalle Zarifeh, and Dr. Nick Kahwaji, Fatima Kadi, Jean Badr, and Nadia Badr participated at this event.  The purpose of this public dialogue is to identify the ways in which diaspora contribute to development, and explore what is required to enable them to have greater impact including

Personal capacity development, public policy mechanisms, and institutional support.   It was a learning experience of what people who came to Canada are supporting their families in their mother country. The Canadian International Development Agency provided funding support for this

 Website Release to redirect: wlcu.info, ulcm.org and ulcm.info domains to www.wlcu.org  October 3, 2011

 The website wlcu.org is running smoothly. Engineer Camille Louis is taking care of the technical aspect of the site. Dr. Nick Kahwaji is in charge of editing, Jamalle Zarifeh (Vancouver, Canada) and David Abi Chaker (Boston, USA) are the two consultants.

I would like to clarify why the wlcu.org became our responsibilities????

According to the World council meeting in Ghana and Beirut in 2011, the wlcu.org supposed to be for the whole organization, the main international website in five languages. The past administration team retracted the idea and stopped the merging of wlcu.com into the wlcu.org and advised the World Treasurer not to cover any expenses related to the new website.

 Since we believe that it is very essential and important to connect the “Lebanese across the globe”, and with the support of Boston Chapter, we stepped in, to keep the website running.

 I would like to take the opportunity here to thank Mr Camille Louis for the enormous time that he spent and still spending on this website. Many to thanks the following who helped financially by buying ads in the website: Mr Anis Karam (Seattle). Amin Harb (Orlando), Mr Anis Garabet (LA), Mr Antoine Ghanem (Brisbane, Australia), Mr Joe Rustom (Edmonton).

The Lebanese Heritage:  From BC to the World.

We are proud to publish the only WLCU online newsletter in the Diaspora. In one year we were able to email it to approximately 10,000 email addresses. We are looking into finding financial supporters in order to upgrade our system to be able to send the newsletter to over 20,000 email accounts.

 Monthly editorials:  We’re proud to have every month an important Lebanese personality who will share with us their writing and experiences.

 WLCU Facebook: I am proud to witness the creation of the WLCU Facebook. It started with 25 likes and in a short period of time, it exceeded 5000. Again, many thanks to Camille Louis, the newly elected president of the LCS of BC (WLCU Vancouver Chapter)

 Arabic Language Program:

Thanks to LCS Past President, Mr. George Rouhana for starting this program. It is now moved from Surrey to a central location in Burnaby.

 Ken Seigneurie Book Signing – January 26, 2012

This is the fourth cultural event that we collaborate with Simon Fraser University. The event took place at Fletcher Theatre – Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre where many of our Lebanese community people attended this event.

 Prof. Seigneurie gave a presentation about his book that’s entitled “Standing by the ruins” – from martyrdom to civic consciousness in Lebanon and Middle East. Ken Seigneurie lived in Lebanon for 13 years and contacted us upon his arrival to Canada. He was very appreciative that the WLCU – BC Council had a hand for the success of this event.

 17 World Congress in MexicoMarch 22 – 25, 2012

As a WLCU – BC Council President and with Mr Nicolas Zammar, LCS of BC Treasurer joined Dr. Nick Kahwaji – World Secretary General to the 17th World Congress. I presented a summary of achievements made in BC.

 Mr. Michel Doueihi was nominated as the WLCU – World President – CONGRATULATIONS were offered to all the new administrations on behalf of WLCU – BC Council.

 Mar Bechara Peter Al Rahi Patriarch of Antioch & the Entire East – visit to Edmonton, Canada (May 9, 2012).

We received an invitation from ” The Eparchy of St. Maroon of Canada” and Our Lady of Good Help Maronite Catholic Parish of Edmonton, AB Our Lady of Peace Maronite Catholic Parish of Calgary, AB to attend the mass and the dinner banquet pertaining to his visit.I was not able to attend this event due to medical reasons but Dr. Nick Kahwaji and his wife Pascale were able to represent the WLCU – BC Council.  We engraved an Inukshuk award with maple leaf and. Dr. Kahwaji presented it to the Patriarch who was very happy with this gesture as no one else thought of presenting him with a souvenir from Canada. At the dinner banquet, the Patriarch invited the delegation to visit him in Lebanon.
In August 2012 the WLCU –BC delegations visited the Patriarch at his summer residence and discussed with him some issues related to the voting right of the Lebanese Diaspora

The Lebanon Migration Museum at NDU Commemorates the Lebanese who perished on the Titanic – August 16, 2012,
The Lebanon and Migration Nucleus Museum at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU), Lebanon and WLCU – BC Council unveiled an authentic scale replica of the Titanic, which sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during its maiden voyage, and a memorial plaque, listing the names of the Lebanese who perished in the tragedy was initiated and presented by the WLCU-BC Council.

 The World Lebanese Cultural Union – BC Council president, Henry Zarifeh Dr. Nick Kahwaji- WLCU Representative DPI-UN, Camille Louis, LCS of BC Secretary and Ms. Noeleen el-Hachem,of the Irish-Lebanese Cultural Foundation in Ireland represented the foundation on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Guy Yunis participated at the unveiling of this replica..

 Also present at the event were Mr. Joe Abi-Saab, the grandson of the late Joe Elias Abi-Saab who lost his life on the Titanic; Mr. Antoine Menassa, President of the Lebanese Businessmen Association in France; Dr. Antoine Khoury Harb; Dr. Assaad Eid, Vice-President of Sponsored Research and Development at NDU; Ms. Guita Hourani, Director of the Lebanese Emigration Research Center (LERC) at NDU; Mr. Roberto Khatlab, LERC’s Liaison Officer for Latin America; guests from Canada and Ireland, and the LERC staff.university.

 International Lebanese Titanic Committee:

 I am proud of the role of the BC council in Titanic activities at the NDU that consolidated the needs to establish the ILTC, with other worldwide organizations. The ILTC was launched and has its own Facebook, and its own webpage.

I would like to mention that last month the ILTC presented Minister Sehnaoui an application to produce a stamp to commemorate the 125 Lebanese people who were perished in the TITANIC.

 Meeting His Excellency President Michel Sleiman at the Presidential Palace in Beit Eddine- August 23, 2012:.

 Henry Zarifeh, Dr. Nick Kahwaji, Camille Louis and a group of British Columbian guests visited General Michel Sleiman – the Lebanese President, at his summer residence in Beit Eddine.

 On behalf of all present, Dr. Kahwaji thanked the president ” for giving us the opportunity to meet with him and emphasized that even though we are living outside Lebanon, our mother country lives in our hearts.

Our community in BC is small but very active in preserving the Lebanese heritage, our Canadian born children, are attached to Lebanon not only in sentimental and familial way but by proudly holding their Lebanese citizenship, and speaking the Lebanese spoken language.

We are here to thank you for your support of our Historical right to reinstate the Lebanese citizenship to the descent, and to permit the Lebanese emigrant – wherever they live – the right to vote in the Lebanese elections. Also to not deprived the descent from Lebanese mother only, their right to be Lebanese


As diaspora representatives, we would like to reiterate our utmost support to your wise policy, and exceptional leadership in this difficult local and regional situation, we ask all politicians, to distant themselves from selfishness, and personal interest and to back you up in your mission to build a strong state.

We would like to insist on having a direct relationship between the representatives of the Lebanese Diaspora and the presidency, we do not want any intermediate broker.


Finally, your Excellency, as representatives of PIRC and WLCU BC – who practice what we preach – we would like to list our latest activities:

  • We took the initiative to honor our fellow Lebanese who died in the TITANIC 100 years ago, with the Irish- Lebanese foundations and the LERC, and give them back their Lebanese denomination

  • We are importing Lebanese cedar trees to be planted in BC and all provinces in Canada.

  • We have just signed a MOU between our PIRC and the CEFYP of the Madrid University.”

 Importing Lebanese Cedar Trees to BC – September 2013

 For almost three years, Dr. Nick Kahwaji was trying to import Lebanese Cedar trees to British Columbia. He went through many paperwork and obstacles to get the cedar tree from Lebanon to Canada. After many attempts and time consumed, he was granted the official permit from the Canadian government to allow him import cedar trees from Lebanon to Canada.

 While in Lebanon in July 2012, Dr. Kahwaji, accompanied by Camille Louis (LCS secretary) and Mr Naim Louis visited Becharree nursery (upon recommendation of Dr Rashid Rahme-former WLCU officer) and was successful in bringing a handful of cedar trees from Lebanon to British Columbia – Canada. These cedar trees are so dear to Dr. Kahwaji that he is taking care of them as if they are members of his family

 Launching of the Lebanese Emigrant Stamp – November 21, 2012

A video conference with the Lebanese minister Mr. Sehnaoui was arranged to be held  at the Kahwaji’s residence in Port Moody, on November 21, 2012. Camille Louis who arranged the technical aspect of the video conference with the office of the minister, was present as well as Henry Zarifeh, Nicolas Zammar, and Dr. Nick Kahwaji from Canada and Minister Sehnaoui, Antoine Menassa and  Shakib Rammal in Lebanon. Farid Makarem (California –USA ),  Michel Assef (Venezuella), Dr Hernan Echen (Buenos Aires Argentina), Lic Mr Jaime Tame Chavez (Mexique), Dr Roger Hani (France), were also invited to participate at this video conference.

The Lebanese Emigrant postage stamp was initiated jointly by WLCU BC Council and the Society “Homme d’affaires Libanais en France (HALFA)” Presided by Mr. Antoine Menassa – Paris. With the support of Centro Libanes in Mexico.

Everyone was happy that the proposal went through.

At his latest visit to Lebanon in March 2013, Dr. Kahwaji presented Minister Sehnaoui with an Emigrant Statue on behalf of the BC council and the Stamp committee..

Dedication Benches at Queen Elizabeth Park – December 14, 2012

We were contacting the Vancouver Park Board for the past two years requesting granting us the installation of two benches to be dedicated to honour two members of our societies-One from Vancouver and another from Victoria. On behalf the WLCU – BC Council, Henry and Jamalle Zarifeh met the Manager of Fundraising and Development of the Vancouver Park Board, Ms. Jose Riebe and after few negotiations, got the approval to install two benches under the Lebanese Cedar tree at the Queen Elizabeth Park. This is a good achievement but now we are looking at planning a fundraising event so that not to miss this opportunity. We need to raise $10,000 for these two benches. Tax Receipts will be given for an amount above $20.00.

We hope to start today the process of fundraising.

Trip to Caracas, VENEZUELA – January 31-February 6, 2013

Upon  invitation from Mr. Michel Assaf. President of the WLCU-Venezuela, (UCLV), WLCU– British Columbia Council participated at the inauguration of Gibran Kahlil Gibran’s library and site in Chacao, Caracas – Venezuela!

 The delegation headed by Henry Zarifeh and four other members namely: Dr. Nick Kahwaji, Pascale Kahwaji, Jamalle Zarifeh, and John Abou Samra, attended the inauguration.

The day before the inauguration was a leisure day. However, Minister Layoun and the entire WLCU delegations were invited to a dinner organized and hosted by the Ladies Association of Zoghorta. They were hospitable and welcoming.

The inauguration event was very successful. Gibran’s library and site are amazingly nice. Celebration of the day ended by a dinner banquet where Henry Zarifeh-on behalf of the WLCU-BC Council- had the opportunity to present Mr. Gaby Layoun, with a Maple Leaf Award, a representation of Canada. He also presented Mr Assaf, Mr. Rammal, Mr Doueihi, and Mr kaddissi with a special gift from Canada.


We had limited edition of Gibran’s small statues for his 125th anniversary presented them to Mr. Michel Assaf’s team members. Underneath are the recipients:

  • Dr. Raimundo Kafrouni.
  • Talal El Ahmad.
  • Kemel Mourad.
  • Rafael Mourad.
  • Elias Tannous.
  • Abdoul Nabi Chaaban

The Association of the Lebanese Ladies of Venezuela (ADALIVE -Asociacion de Damas Libano-Venezolana) invited Minister Layoun and the WLCU delegations for a day to Mount Avila. Not to mention that Dr. Nick Kahwaji gifted Mr. Assaf with a Lebanese Cedar tree that he brought with him to Canada during summer of 2012. This cedar tree which is a symbol of friendship between UCLV and WLCU BC Council was planted that day at Mount Avila. 

During Dr. Nick Kahwaji visit to Lebanon in March 2013, he visited- on our behalf- the Minister of Culture who donated to WLCU BC Council textbooks in the Arabic language.

Finally, I would like to thank you all for your dedication and efforts in giving of our little presence, on the West Coast, a big role in serving the Lebanese Diaspora and the mother country.

Good luck for the new team that will be elected today; we will be always here to help and back up any efforts needed. 

Henry Zarifeh

(WLCU-BCC President: March 2011-April 2013)


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