Marie Khouri

Lebanese Canadian Marie Khouri’s sculptures form both seats and a message of peace

Bill vander zalm

The Lebanese Canadians That We Know, Have Given Us a very Favourable Impression Of Lebanon and Its People 


The very successful event, sponsored by the Lebanese Community of Vancouver, British Columbia, at Queen Elizabeth Park on Sunday March 5th, reminded me again of how fortunate we are in Canada, to have a coming together, as Canadians, of so many different cultures.  Each culture bringing the best of its traditions, intelligence and skills.

The obvious respect and gratitude shown Mrs. Vi Shumas Smith, one of the founders of the Lebanese Canadian Society in Vancouver, many years ago, and who was present in the event, shows the importance of the continuity in leadership from individuals and an organization.  Without such dedication the beauty of age old cultures would simply get lost in a “sea of sameness”.

The presence of several Religious leaders also convinced me that this too binds the community.

Lillian and I were impressed with the many in attendance, a number of which I knew from another time and another “movie”.  The enthusiasm and appreciation by all those present was contagious.

It was a joy to see the Lebanese Ambassador to Canada, who had travelled all the way from Ottawa to participate in the inauguration of the sponsored benches in a part of Queen Elizabeth Park that some now know as a tiny piece of Lebanon in B.C.

No doubt any Lebanese person holding office today, when a chaotic situation in neighbouring Syria forced so many to seek refuge with a caring neighbour, is constantly called upon.  The Ambassador is a very nice gentleman and we’re lucky to have him.

The Inauguration of the benches is something we would not have missed. The tributes presented by Lebanese Canadians, the Ambassador, the President of the Lebanese Society, Acting Mayor of Vancouver and others was very impressive but none more so than the stunning rendition of achievements of Professor Georges Abi-Rached, by his son Dr. Rene Abi-Rached.

My real awareness in the hospitality and friendliness of the Lebanese people came when we met the “Abi-Rached family”.  Our immediate impression was that we had met a family determined to leave the world a bit better than what they found it. 

We found a loving and caring family, a love which reached out far beyond the immediate family.  No doubt Prof. Georges and his wonderful wife and partner Hilda set the tone but we also learned that they held firmly to the belief that “the family that prays together stays together.”  Prof. Georges was extremely intelligent but also smart; he wanted all things, personal, family, business or social to be as near perfect as he could get it and knew that the common denominator for all of this was a Love of God and the unwavering practice of his religion.  Our friend Prof. Abi-Rached left us too soon, but a family, convinced that they will see him again in a far more wonderful place, continues on the path he set for them.

Following the inauguration of the two memorial benches, we all moved to the nearby Van Dusen Gardens where not only we enjoyed good traditional Lebanese food but where, with great interest, we viewed a slide presentation entitled “a search for our roots”.  Today we enjoy a relatively comfortable life-style and can do little more than improve on what already is but those first pioneers, Lebanese and others, had to build from the ground up and left us a secure foundation.

A pleasant surprise, at the inauguration of the benches and again at the reception and slide show presentation, was meeting Mr. Wilf Ray, a radio personality of years ago, whom we admired a great deal but had lost track of.

The Abi-Rached family, the Lebanese Ambassador and other Lebanese Canadians have given us a very favorable impression of Lebanon and its people.

William Nick Vander Zalm

Former Premier of the Province of British Columbia



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