Lebanese community in Prince Edward Island celebrates annual levee

P.E.I. Lebanese community celebrates annual levee

TC Media

© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Carole Dahab performs a traditional Middle Eastern belly dance when she performed during the annual Lebanese new years levee sponsored by the Canadian Lebanese Association of Prince Edward Island Saturday night. She is from Montreal. There was also traditional Lebanese food such as tabouli, hummus, riz bi sh’arieh, fatayer, kibbeh, yabbrak, riz bi djaaz and to finish off there was baklava and sweets.

CHARLOTTETOWN – Belly dancing, authentic Middle Eastern food and the success of a documentary detailing the Lebanese community’s journey to Prince Edward Island were showcased on Saturday night.

More than 600 individuals attended the annual Lebanese Levee hosted by the Canadian Lebanese Association (CLA) of P.E.I. at the Delta Prince Edward.

Nick Tweel, master of ceremonies, said the event began in 1963 and is largely an opportunity to celebrate the past year’s accomplishments while also looking ahead.

“It’s been going on for many, many years,” said Tweel. “And the reason why we put this event on is that so we can celebrate with each and every one of you a couple weeks later than New Years.”

The annual event also saw live entertainment with Halifax group Saint Antonio Parish Dancers being the first to perform.

However, Carole Dahab, a professional belly dancer from Montreal, was the highlight for many and performed several times through the evening.

“She’s been all over doing her amazing belly dance style that captivates the audience like nobody else,” said Tweel. “There’s not too many people around that can move their hips like that, that’s why we bring her back every year because she’s just simply the best.”

The major accomplishment celebrated through the evening was the completion of the documentary “A New Place Called Home,” which was released last summer.

The documentary, which was shot and produced by David Rashed with funds from P.E.I. 2014, showed the Lebanese community’s journey to the province.

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“And see what they went through what their families went through to come here to give their children a chance for a better life,” said Fadi Rashed, president of the CLA.

Rashed said the 2014 also saw more improvements to the association’s clubhouse, which was purchased late in 2013.

Part of the funds raised from Saturday’s levee would also go towards the clubhouse, he said.

“It’s been a work in progress and with the support of everybody that comes here tonight we get a little closer to achieving our goal, which would be a place to teach our children Arabic, a community centre for us to get together, just something to call our own.”

Charlottetown-Victoria MLA Richard Brown said he first attended the levee in 1983 at the Jack Blanchard Hall and remarked on how the event has grown since.

He said the CLA has also been a strong voice in promoting and advocating for P.E.I.’s multicultural diversity.

“I believe it is one of our greatest qualities as a province and is what makes Prince Edward Island a great place to live, work and enjoy,” he said. “Through the years, the association has ensured that future generations are aware and proud of their Lebanese culture.  But more than that, they’ve opened up their doors and shared their culture of their ancestors to our entire province.”

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