While Diefenbaker’s most memorable quote is probably “Everyone is against me — except for the people!”, his remarks when presenting the Canadian Bill of Rights are especially poignant during this most patriotic day:
“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”
Canadian Multiculturalism Day was established by Royal Proclamation in 2002. It recognizes that our country has been shaped by contributions of Canadians of various multicultural groups and communities. The Proclamation reads in part:
Whereas multiculturalism is a fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage;
Whereas Canadians of all backgrounds have made and continue to make valuable contributions to Canadian society;
Whereas it is considered appropriate that there be, in each year, a day to mark and celebrate those contributions and to recognize Canadian diversity; […]
Now know you that We, by and with the advice of Our Privy Council for Canada, do by this Our Proclamation declare June 27 of each year as “Canadian Multiculturalism Day”, a celebration of the contributions of Canada’s diverse people to Canadian society.
Take a moment today to celebrate the rich fabric of Canadian society; diversity in our country, as in our union, makes us stronger!
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day is the National Holiday of Quebec and part of the 11 days of Celebrate Canada. It was first celebrated in Lower Canada in 1636, when the colony mainly operated as a fur-trading venture. Today, the national holiday is a celebration of French culture within Canada. In many cities and towns in Quebec and other francophone communities across the country, parades and parties are held and fireworks light the sky.
When asked what Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day means to them, Louise Patrice and Jean-Pierre Nault, co-presidents of the Francophone Committee, pointed to the following words drawn from fetenationale.info:
An occasion to meet again
Around a joyous fire, a large table or before scenes in which our artists sing, let us take advantage of these worthwhile occasions offered by Quebec’s National Holiday to tell stories, as have people done here for centuries, from the moment they first gathered. Let us do it in total friendship and in complete solidarity, because these are features of our community, which, throughout literature, have often been made clear. Let us therefore tell each other stories… and let us sing them too, because many of them have been brilliantly made into music.
This National Aboriginal Day, celebrate the rich contributions Aboriginal peoples have made to Canada!
From Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada:
In co-operation with national Aboriginal organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21 for National Aboriginal Day because it is also the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. For generations, many Aboriginal peoples have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day. Today, Canada is proud to recognize the unique achievements of Aboriginal peoples – in fields a diverse as agriculture and the environment, to nation-building and the arts – with a national day of celebration.
National Aboriginal Day kicks off an 11-day celebration of Canadian culture and heritage: National Aboriginal Day (June 21), Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27) and Canada Day (July 1).
“As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognized and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations”
– From Article 1 of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, 2001
In 2002, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed May 21 to be the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. The United Nations declares that this Day will “provide us with an opportunity to deepen understanding of the values of Cultural Diversity and to learn to ‘live together’ better.”
In honour of this day, UNESCO and the UN Alliance of Civilizations have launched a grassroots campaign called “Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion”, which aims to engage one million people across the globe to do one activity in support of diversity and inclusion.
For more information on the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, please consult the United Nations’ website.
May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia. It is also the day on which the World Health Organization, in 1990, removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Over the last decades, the LGBT community and its allies have fought and won many battles towards equal rights. As a union, we are proud to stand with our LGBT brothers and sisters whenever their rights or dignity have been violated.
Despite the progress achieved in recent years, homophobia continues to be a key issue that negatively affects the LGBT community. It prevents many individuals from openly living their sexual orientation and contributes to the high suicide rate among LGBT individuals, especially among youth.
The International Day Against Homophobia provides an opportunity to work towards a prejudice-free world and celebrate our LGBT brothers and sisters’ contributions to society.
Members working at Portage in the NCR are encouraged to wear purple (or a purple accessory) on May 17; the Bureau Régional d’Action Sida (leBRAS) and Jeunesse Idem will be distributing purple triangles at Place du Centre.
March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racism. This day reminds us that racism still exists in our society – and that is unfortunate.
On March 18 and 19, the National Component was holding a regional seminar in Calgary. For the past few years, a white supremacist group called Blood and Honour has held “white pride” rallies to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Racism in Calgary.
That morning, when I read the article in the Globe and Mail describing the white pride rally and the leader of Blood and Honour, I became angry – angry that there are people who feel that they are better than everyone else because of their skin colour or their religion. I was angry that these people felt they could go march the streets to spread their message of racial supremacy.
I had to do something; I could not let this go. I asked members at the western seminar if they would join me in protesting the white supremacist rally. I was happy have about 30 National Component members join this anti-racism protest. We met up with about 170 other like-minded folks who shouted slogans towards the Blood and Honour group for about an hour. At least I felt like we had done something positive.
Racism in any form is just wrong. We all have a responsibility to help eliminate racism, whether it is taking part in an anti-racism protest, speaking up against inappropriate jokes, or just accepting people as individuals and getting to know them a bit better. Talk to someone who is different than you and you will learn about that person – you will also be helping to make our society a better place for the next generation.
– Geoff Ryan
Assistant Regional Vice-President for the Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Region.
More photos are available on our new FlickR site! Please click here!
The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911; this year marks the 100th anniversary. Status of Women Canada writes the following regarding this year’s theme:
The theme for International Women’s Day and Week 2011 – Girls’ Rights Matter / Les droits des filles comptent – focuses on the importance of equality and access to opportunity for all girls and women throughout their lives. This theme encourages us to reflect on the situation of girls in Canada, and to look beyond women’s relative privilege domestically, to the international context. This theme also connects to the United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2011: Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women. A girl who enjoys equality has a greater likelihood of being self-confident and aware of her own potential, and of being empowered to access the education, training and career opportunities that will contribute to her success in life.
For more information on International Women’s Day, please consult these links:
On October 18th 2010, the World March of Women drew thousands of women who took part in the national rally. The World March of Women is a movement that binds together 4500 women’s groups across 151 countries. An important gathering was also held at Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The National Component is proud to have been represented by sisters from various Regional Women’s Committees across Quebec.