During the Diaspora Energy Conference that was held on May 21-23, 2015 in Beirut, I heard that the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Gebran Bassil was planning a trip to Eastern Canada for a few days. I thought to myself “why not propose to him to arrange a trip to Vancouver as it would be a great honour to have him attend the inauguration of two commemorative benches event on June 7th that was preplanned by the Lebanese Canadian Society of BC”.
At the “Batrouniyat”, after lunch, like any other delegate, I offered the Minister a souvenir on behalf of the Lebanese community in BC. I went ahead and made the request to the minister to come to Vancouver and to my surprise, he quickly asked one of his staff, Mr. Ziad El Najjar, to check about that possibility.
On May 29th, 2015, I received an official schedule of the Minister’s trip to Canada from Mr. Ziad El Najjar. I was surprised and content to see that Vancouver was one of the Minister’s stops however, it was for June 9th, not June 7th as previously hoping. I learned that His Excellency Mr. Gebran Bassil will be coming to Vancouver with chargé d’affair Mr. Sami Haddad as well as 11 members of his team.
That didn’t leave a lot of time, so an organizing committee was quickly established which included LCS of BC board members, WLCU BC council board members and members of the Lebanese community in BC
Even though it was a very short visit to Vancouver, we were proud to show the Minister and the Lebanese delegation what we have physically done in the various parts of the province, during the past few decades, to promote the Lebanese culture and heritage in BC.
Today we are willing to join the establishment of the Canadian Lebanese Immigrants House in Batroun Lebanon. Preparation for this project are on their way with the help of his Excellency Mr. Wadih Fares the Honorary Consul in Halifax.
We were very pleased with this historical visit, one that we have never dreamed of!
As a small Lebanese community in the far western part of Canada, we have always felt forgotten and separated from our ” Lebanese republic”.
With the new energy of the ministry of foreign affairs, and by them making the trip and recognizing us, we are happy to see us placed back on the map and starting a closer connection to Lebanon hoping one day we will have a honorary consulate in British Columbia.Dr Nick Kahwaji