This was originally published in the Mill Woods Mosaic (July 15, 2018):
Ours is a land of Indigenous Peoples, settlers, and newcomers, and our diversity has always been at the core of our success. Canada’s history is built on countless instances of people uniting across their differences to work and thrive together. We are lucky to live in a diverse country where we can celebrate and come together because of our differences. In the words of our Prime Minister, “Canada is strong not in spite of differences, but because of them.”
It was wonderful to be back home in Edmonton to celebrate Canada Day! It was great to be able to visit some of the diverse organizations in our community again this year while also getting to check out some new events.
I kicked off the day with the Ismaili Council for their 29th Annual Canada Day Breakfast. My wife, Sarbjeet, and I were excited to flip and serve pancakes to 12,000 guests this year, alongside my colleague from Edmonton Centre, Randy Boissonnault.
One of my favourite part of being an MP is welcoming new Canadians. I was honored to spend some of Canada Day doing just that at Edmonton’s Citizenship Ceremony at Fort Edmonton Park. I was joined Edmonton’s newly appointed citizen judge – and frequent Fort Edmonton Park volunteer – Major Claude Villeneuve. My colleague Minister Ahmed Hussen selected him for this position because of the civic values he embodies, the inspirational contributions he has made to his community and to Canada, and his support for the Government of Canada’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Maj. Villeneuve served in the Canadian Armed Forces for more than 37 years, in the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force. He is an Aide-de-Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and a recipient of the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. Edmonton is proud and lucky to have him represent the very best of us.
The highlight of Canada Day is always the Mill Woods Canada Day Event, which I am proud to say has become Canada’s largest Block Party! This event hosts over 50,000 people each year. The Mill Woods Presidents’ Council always puts on a fantastic event for our community and I am so grateful for all their hard work.
Canada Day is also an opportunity to celebrate Edmonton’s diversity. It was a pleasure to attend the Council of India Societies’ Canada Day celebration and get a chance to enjoy great performances with friends. The Council of India Societies of Edmonton has preserved Indian traditions while celebrating Canada for welcoming us all. Similarly, many thanks to the Alberta Gujarati Association for bringing the community together to celebrate Canada Day with over 400 attendees at Rundle Park.
I also had the chance to stop by and visit some other community groups, including the Mill Woods Cultural Society of the Retired and Semi-Retired, which always provides an opportunity to reflect on the contributions made by the generations before us. It was also nice to see my friends from Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at as they celebrate Canada Day at their public BBQ. This year, they launched their first annual Run for Edmonton to raise funds for the Edmonton Food Bank. This run has raised over $1 million for local charities and non-profits across Canada and I am excited to see it come to Edmonton.
Lastly, I enjoyed participating in Eid Mila for the first time with the Pakistani Canadian Association. I was able to experience how Edmonton Pakistanis are maintaining their traditions while balancing their identity as proud Canadians. The Pakistani street food and rich culture I was able to enjoy was an added bonus!
I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Canada Day celebrating our country, our values, and our diversity.