I would like to take this opportunity to wish members of the Canadian Kurdish community Happy Newroz, on the occasion of the Arian New Year.
Newroz is the most important festival in the Kurdish tradition. Meaning ’New Sun’ and ’New Day’, Newroz is celebrated on March 21, 2013. There are many explanations for the origins of Newroz, with records of the spring festival found as early as 3000 BC. The festival symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness, the celebration of new life and freedom from oppression. The origins of this festival date back 5000 years.
This celebration commemorates one of the founding myths of Kurdish identity. Legend holds that Kava, a blacksmith’s son, killed a child-eating giant and, after slaying the beast, lit a fire to signal his terrorized people that they no longer need live in fear.
Today, Kurds, the descendants of Kava, light fires during Newroz – often by burning tires as a symbol of resistance, independence and survival in the face of tyranny.
As a Member of Parliament, I have worked closely with the Kurdish Diaspora in Canada on many issues important to the community.
In June 2011, I traveled to Turkey and witnessed voting in the 17th General Election in Kurdish regions of the country. In October 2011, following the earthquakes that struck eastern Turkey, I stood with the Canadian Kurdish community calling on the Conservative government to assist earthquake victims.
On March 16, 2010, the twenty-second Anniversary of the Halabja Gassing, Members of Parliament adopted my Motion to condemn the poisonous gas attack in Halabja, the destruction of Iraqi Kurdish villages and the systematic persecution of Kurds in Iraq by Saddam Hussein as crimes against humanity. In 2009, I visited Kurdistan, Iraq and the Monument of Halabja Martyrs. I told the survivors I would ask the House of Commons to declare the actions of the Saddam Hussein government against the Kurdish people to be a crime against humanity. Thanks to all Members of Parliament, I have been able to keep my promise.
In March 2013, I was privileged to attend the “Day of Hope” commemoration in Halabja. This solemn and poignant occasion was held to pay homage to those who were killed during the commission of this horrendous crime against the people of Halabja.
Canada is a proud multicultural nation that embraces a wide variety of cultures and heritages. Canadians of Kurdish heritage help to foster this identity and strengthen the fabric of our society. Members of the Kurdish Diaspora in Canada have made, and continue to make, significant contributions in a number of areas including sports, business, the arts, medicine and public service.
Canada has attracted, and continues to attract, people from all over the world. We will continue to work together to build our nation and enhance our international reputation. As the Liberal Critic for Multiculturalism, I look forward to our ongoing work in building a stronger Canada.
On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, please accept our wishes on the occasion of Newroz.
Newroz pîroz be!