International day of the Lebanese Emigrant 2016, British Columbia Canada, as seen by Mr Farid Makarim (L.A)
Mr. George Al Murr The World Vice President of WLCU , Victoria Dr. Nick Kahwaji President, British Colombia Council of WLCU Mrs. Carla Zarifeh President Lebanese Canadian Society of BC (WLCU Vancouver)
We would like to share our gratitude and pride with the WLCU BC Council and its active and disciplined board, as well as our Lebanese community in the beautiful cities of Vancouver and Victoria, for organizing one of the richest and most organized Lebanese Emigrant Days 2016 I have attended.
All of you have gracefully portrayed our rich culture and heritage in the best shape and form, congratulations.
My wife, Amira, and I want to extend a special thank you to Mr. George Al Murr and his family, Mrs. Carla Zarifeh and her family, Dr. Nick Kahwaji and his family, and Mr. John Badr and his family for the passion and efforts they invested which have resulted in this extraordinary and successful event.
The festival of the Emigrant Day started in Vancouver on Saturday March 5, 2016, at the “Lebanese Memorial Square” of Queen Elizabeth Park, under the 60-year-old Holy Cedar Tree, where two Benches were commissioned in recognition of prominent early Lebanese immigrants. The ceremony was attended by His Excellency the Consular General of Lebanon in Ottawa, Mr. Sami Haddad, and His Excellency, the former premier of BC, Bill Vander Zalm, and his wife Lillian the acting Mayor of Vancouver, Raymond Louie, and city councilor Andrea Reimer, and elders from the community who participated in planting the cedar tree over 60 years ago.
The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Benches was performed by Dr. Rene’ Abi Rashid, Mr. George Al Murr, for the Late George abi Rached Mr. Bill Vander Zalm BC, and Mr. Farid Makarim inaugurated the benches in Loving memory of the founders of the first lebanese club in Canada ( 1912).
The Ceremony was followed by speeches portraying the appreciation and love of the Canadian officials toward the Lebanese community in Canada and citing the great role Lebanese immigrants play in their host countries. During the event, the premier mentioned that he is visiting Orange County next month and promised me he will visit us in our home in California.
The Ceremony was followed by a cultural night at the Vandusen garden Hall, a series of slide shows event titled: searching for our roots, attended by 160 persons. All was invited to a Lebanese finger food dinner.
On March 6th we visited Simon Frasier University, where WLCU members and the university’s officials, helped His Excellency, Consular General Mr. Haddad, plant a cedar tree next to Gibran’s memorial monument , which was installed on the university’s grounds back in 2009.
The cedar planting was followed by a cultural ceremony in the university’s stadium where there was a display of documentaries and films about the rich Lebanese culture and heritage. The documentaries invoked strong emotions among the attendees who shared great yearning toward their Lebanese roots and strong pride due to being of Lebanese descent.
This event proved that Dr. Kahwaji is not only knowledgeable in the dental roots, but also proved to be a specialist in the Lebanese roots, history, and culture across the Diasporas as evidenced by the information shared during this cultural night, where he recognized prominent immigrants.
During this event, WLCU BC COUNCIL presented a plaque of appreciation to Dr Laura Marks from SFU (representing Dr Thomas Kuehn president of CCSMSC, and recognized visiting guests, like Dr Anis Karam (Seattle), Eng. Ali Shami (Seattle), Farid Makarim (L.A) including His Excellency Mr. Haddad, with plaques of appreciation.
His Excellency, the Lebanese Consular General Mr. Haddad, came from Ottawa to support the Lebanese community during this special event, and his presence was valued and appreciated by all involved.
The event was followed by a Lebanese dinner offered by Family Abi Farrage in their famous restaurant Samiramis.
On March 7th, the delegation travelled to Victoria on a tourist ship. We toured several of the tourist locations being considered for the new location of the Lebanese Immigrant Statue, currently standing on a private place in Douglas street Victoria. Later Mr. George Al Murr arranged a meeting for us with Victoria’s mayor and his staff, who had a warm welcome for us and who approved the new location selected to house the transferred statue.
The Lebanese Consular General Mr. Haddad offered the city mayor a present from Lebanon and spoke about the good relationship between Canada and Lebanon.
The acting mayor Charlayne Thornton-Joe offered each of the WLCU visitor and H.E Mr Haddad a present from the city of Victoria
In the afternoon of the same day we visited the glorious house of government with His Excellency, Mr. Haddad, to meet the Speaker of the House. The Speaker shared her appreciation toward the Lebanese community in British Columbia and asked to be included to support and attend any upcoming Lebanese events within the Lebanese-Canadian community.
The day ended with a fancy dinner under the hospitality of Mr. George Al Murr and his family.
The events of this festival were extremely organized, the festival hosts were extremely hospitable, and the attendees were extremely engaged.
Dear WLCU Vancouver, Victoria, and British Columbia Council, you made us proud to be Lebanese with your hard work, and I look to you as role models in applying the principles and vision of the WLCU.
I was extremely delighted to be a part of this wonderful event. I look forward to and hope that all of our WLCU communities in the North America Region share in each other’s events and support each other to exemplify the role of the Lebanese Diaspora worldwide.
With my best regards and love to all,
Former World Vice President, WLCU