The Honourable George J. Furey, Q.C.
Speaker of the Senate
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The strong relationship between our two countries can be traced back to the 18th century, when goods were being exchanged between Canadian merchants from the Maritimes and Cuban traders and years later, in 1945, official diplomatic relations were established between Cuba and Canada. It was the start of a long standing, cooperative friendship that still resonates today, with continued bilateral engagements on a multitude of cultural, economic and social platforms.It is with great pleasure that I welcome you this evening, as we celebrate Cuba Cultural Night on the Hill. I have been looking forward to this event, as it serves as a wonderful demonstration of the vitality of Cuban culture and heritage, while also celebrating the great Canadian–Cuban bilateral relationship.
Last year marked the 70th anniversary of the Canadian-Cuban diplomatic relations and many cultural, academic and official events took place to celebrate this exceptional milestone. In Cuba, the Canadian Embassy organized many cultural events to showcase both Cuban and Canadian culture…and tonight, it is our turn to contribute in celebrating the rich Cuban culture and to honour the great friendship between Canada and Cuba.
People to people ties are the backbone of any international relationship. By engaging with one another and by sharing experiences, opinions and stories, we participate actively in this wonderful dynamic at play between Cuba and Canada.
At its core, a culture is formed of individuals, history, art and traditions. By partaking in events like this one, we get to nourish both our respective and collective cultural heritage. We also have the tremendous opportunity to form bonds that go beyond politics or diplomacy.
Tonight we will have the privilege to experience first-hand this vibrant cultural heritage, with a performance from the great Augusto Enriquez. Mr. Enriquez is one of Cuba’s most cherished performers, and his talents have taken him around the world where he shared the stage with some of the all-time greats, such as Andreas Bocelli, Sting and Luciano Pavarotti. Mr. Enriquez, on behalf of all us here gathered tonight, I thank for your presence and I look forward to seeing your performance later this evening.
I would also like to thank Ambassador Peña for his role in organizing this event. Since being named Ambassador of Cuba in Canada in 2013, His Excellency Peña has been a tremendous friend to our country. While celebrating the World Day of Prayer in Brockville last March, Ambassador Peña said that “Canadian people will always have a special place in the Cubans’ hearts and homes.”1 Tonight let us demonstrate the special place that Cuban culture and Cuban people have here in Canada.
I wish all of you a wonderful evening. Thank you.
1 Ronald Zajac, « ‘A special place in Cubans’ hearts’ », The Brockville Recorder and Times, 4 mars 2016.