From Lebanon to British Columbia (1888-2015)
The BC Council of the World Lebanese Cultural Union is proud to submit to the Victoria City Council this proposal for a permanent site for “The Lebanese Emigrant” statue. Commemorating the 127th year anniversary of the arrival of the first Lebanese emigrants to British Columbia, this bronze statue concretizes the link between the peoples of Canada and the Lebanese who immigrated to their shores.
The World Lebanese Cultural Union (Canadian Registered
charitable organization # 82537 1149.RR) is part of a world
-wide association, which serves as an umbrella for several groups
active in British Columbia, including The Lebanese Canadian Society of BC, The Christian Canadian Lebanese Association – Victoria, and the BC Youth Chapter. Numerous members of these groups are descendants of the first Lebanese settlers who arrived in Montreal in 1882 to escape economic hardship and religious and political persecution under the Ottoman Empire. The first Lebanese in the province were two brothers, Abraham and Farris Ray, who began their careers in Victoria as itinerant peddlers in 1888, their brothers Richard joined them in 1889.By the end of the 1880s the first Lebanese families began to arrive in Vancouver, and establish their homes in the Lower Mainland. Among the Lebanese pioneers on the west coast, the names of Rahi (became Ray), Shumas, Saba, Naaoom, Mussallem, Haddad, Gillette, Brady and Kalley stand out. Some of them went to Vancouver Island to work in the forestry industry, and some settled in Victoria as peddlers.
To cement the ties that bind the Lebanese Diaspora to life in western Canada, the WLCU, encouraged by a verbal approval from Mayor Alan Lowe (1999-2008), had arranged for the shipment of the statue “The Lebanese Emigrant” for placement in Victoria. Designed and executed by Mr. Ramiz Barquet, a sculptor and Mexican national of Lebanese decent, this statue is one of few identical pieces standing prominently in various cities around the world: Mexico City, Beirut, Brisbane, Melbourne, Accra, and soon we hope, Victoria. “The Lebanese Emigrant” represents the world-wide spread of Lebanese culture as well as the love, honor and respect Lebanese emigrants feel for the nations that so generously received them…
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