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The Honourable George J. Furey, Q.C.

Speaker of the Senate



Welcoming remarks for the Senate celebration of Asian Heritage Month

Your Excellencies,
Honourable Senators,
Honourable Members of the House of Commons,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen:

As Speaker of the Senate, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you here this evening to celebrate Asian Heritage Month. It is indeed an honour to join my co-hosts…

Senator Yonah Martin

Senator Salma Ataullahjan

Senator Lillian Dyck

Senator Tobias Enverga

Senator Mobina Jaffer

Senator Thanh Ngo

Senator Victor Oh…and

Senator Ratna Omidvar…as we come together to celebrate Asian Heritage Month here in Canada.

Diversity has always played a central role in Canadian history. It is our key source of strength and the driving force behind new ideas and inventions.

The Asian immigration of the past two centuries exemplifies the strength and benefits of this diversity. It brought to Canada a rich cultural heritage representing many languages, ethnicities and religious traditions.

May is Asian Heritage Month, the perfect occasion to recognize the long and rich history of Canadians of Asian origin, as well as the beauty and wisdom of Asia’s many cultures.

It also provides an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate the contributions of this vibrant community to Canada’s growth and prosperity by hosting and participating in events and festivities.

You may wonder, however, how this idea to observe Asian Heritage Month came about in Canada...after all, it has been celebrated in the United States since 1979…

In fact, an unofficial tradition was begun when many Asians in Canada, following their “Asian American cousins,” also began to celebrate their heritage in May…

But it was not until December 2001 that the Senate adopted the motion put forward by our guest of honour, the Honourable Vivienne Poy, to designate May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada.

Thanks to her motion, in 2002 the Government of Canada signed an official declaration designating the month of May as Asian Heritage Month.

Dr. Poy was the first Canadian of Asian descent to be appointed to the Senate of Canada. As a Senator, she was integral to recognizing the important contributions of Asian Canadians to the settlement and development of Canada…and what finer way to have these important contributions be honoured than to have Canada formally designate May as Asian Heritage Month.

Vivienne, in honour of your efforts to have Asian Heritage Month recognized here in Canada, it is my sincere honour to present you with this plaque, as a token of our deepest appreciation. Your motion helped us build bridges of understanding, as well as promote the Canadian values of mutual respect and cultural diversity.

Congratulations...and thank you.