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Arabian Nights

advance notice … this is coming in the fall

a cultural extravaganza

films and documentaries, panel discussions,

theatre, music, song, dance,

visual art, crafts, information booths . . .

from around the Arab World and locally …

love thy neighbour … 2017 iftar

2017 love thy neighbour IFTAR

an opportunity for muslims and non muslims to mingle and enjoy a relaxed social gathering

because in the end we all identify as CANADIAN ..

please encourage your colleagues and neighbours to join you …

an opportunity to show support to the Muslim community that is currently very much misunderstood ..

 … there will be no speeches the idea here is to encourage everyone to socialize and mingle

the ‘iftar’ will be an all Halal meal, in addition to some specials of Ramadan . . .

for example  .. fava beans are a must every night of Ramadan no matter  how elaborate the food is ..

also a middle eastern dessert

and qamar el din (dried apricot juice)

and Karkadeh which is a wild flower tea (served cold since we are not in winter)

breaking of the fast is at sundown ..  that on Friday will be at 8:58

if you have any dietary restrictions .. please let us know NOW

ADVANCE reservations ONLY please .. we need to know the exact numbers prior to the event

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looking forward to hearing from you

Hero Gala 2016


here is an opportunity to enjoy the Golf’s Steak House &
Seafood restaurant’s amazing ballroom, their delicious food and
40 years of experience in hospitality

live band, ballroom dance show by Fred Astaire team

door prizes and so much more …

an evening of HERO recognition

we do not single out anyone, it is not a competition

we celebrate everyone in the room

novel idea .. YOU BET!

it is about honouring sung and unsung heroes …

a deserving person in your life … a celebration of all good work

a member of your staff, a colleague, a volunteer, a student, teacher a boss even

5:00 – 5:30 arrival, registration, seating etc

5:30 – 6:30 reception, mingling, networking (cash bar)

6:30 – 7:30 sit down dinner

7:30 onwards lots of celebrating and fun ..

for sponsorship opportunity and other details email us at



Canada’s 149 th Anniversary

Anicka Christine Bakos
is a University of Waterloo graduate with interests in writing, editing and helping Canadian newcomers learn English

Each year on Canada Day special citizenship ceremonies take place throughout the country.‭ ‬I like to take‭ ‬the opportunity each year to reflect upon my experience growing up in‭ ‬Canada.‭ ‬I‭’‬m sure most of us would agree that we live in one of the best places in the world.‭

It‭’‬s no surprise that earlier this year the University of Pennsylvania‭’‬s Wharton School of business and BAV Consulting ranked Canada as the second-best country in the world from among sixty nations in a survey released at the World Economic Forum in Davos,‭ ‬Switzerland.‭ ‬And I think Canada‭’‬s former Governor General the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson would wholeheartedly agree with the survey results.

Recently I had the opportunity to hear the former governor general speak at a lecture at the University of Waterloo.‭ ‬Having arrived from Hong Kong as a refugee at the age of three,‭ ‬Clarkson related some of her own experiences growing up in Canada and reflected on why multiculturalism works so well in this country.‭ ‬Like many of us,‭ ‬she reminisced about being uprooted,‭ ‬coming to a new country and having to‭ ‬“learn new things and new habits”‬.

Clarkson believes that the process of belonging to a new country is an important one.‭ ‬She explained that‭ ‬“When we talk about belonging we have to think of what we belong to,‭ ‬and we can‭’‬t belong unless there is something to belong to.‭ ‬You have to be able to belong,‭ ‬but you also have to be able to criticize,‭ ‬to disagree,‭ ‬and that is fundamental to belonging”‬.

Clarkson believes that Canada has significantly changed for the better.‭ ‬She described Canada as a‭ ‬“white,‭ ‬fairly racist country‭”‬ back in‭ ‬1942‭ ‬where‭ ‬“laws were enacted…‭ ‬to discourage any kind of immigration from China‭”‬ adding that‭ ‬“parts of Canada were intensely racist”‬.

Many of us forget that in fact overt discrimination remained a part of the official Canadian immigration policy up until the latter half of the twentieth century.‭ ‬In‭ ‬1962,‭ ‬new immigration regulations were finally introduced eliminating overt racial discrimination and establishing skills as the main criteria for determining admissibility rather than race or national origin.‭ ‬But it was not until Canada‭’‬s adoption of multiculturalism as an official policy in‭ ‬1971‭ ‬that the cultural diversity of Canadian immigrants began to be promoted as an integral part of the Canadian identity.‭ ‬Clarkson agreed that over the years Canada has become‭ ‬“very good at welcoming people,‭ ‬welcoming refugees,‭ ‬introducing people to new languages‭ [‬and at‭] ‬settlement”‬.

But according to Clarkson,‭ ‬we as a country need to strive to become even better.‭ ‬Clarkson argued that‭ ‬“We also have to feel that all human beings are equal.‭ ‬That everybody is a human being and there is no human being who is more human than any other‭”‬ adding that‭ ‬“That‭’‬s something we have to really internalize because I think it is something that underlies a lot of problems that we face today”‬.

The former governor general described Canada today as‭ ‬“a society…‭ ‬that creates a lateral trust among all equals because we are all equals as human beings,‭ ‬and it’s a key element of our democracy‭”‬ adding that‭ ‬“I think that we have a society that is like a kind of great friendship”‬. She went on to say that‭ “‬It’s very important to know that in order to belong you don’t have to agree with everything,‭ ‬and you don’t have to agree with each other or your leaders.‭ ‬When you come here and you become a citizen you have to say,‭ ‬you know,‭ ‬everything that’s happened in this country up until now I accept and I am part of it now”.

Asked how she coped in her new country in times of difficulty,‭ ‬Clarkson replied,‭ ‬“You look for mentors,‭ ‬you look for people who are going to help you,‭ ‬and that’s what makes me believe so strongly in the public education system‭”‬ adding that‭ ‬“Public education is the single most important thing that we have going for us as an immigrant nation.‭ ‬If we don’t have strong public education we can’t make our values known‭; ‬that is the most important thing”.

Clarkson concluded by reminding her audience,‭ ‬“We have to learn to live in a society of belonging with the levels of discomfort,‭ ‬the difference it brings.‭ ‬Living with that level of discomfort shows sophistication of human activity which differentiates us with what we call the bad side of tribalism.‭ ‬We have to understand that we’ve already created in this country a really remarkable thing”‬.

So as we celebrate Canada‭’‬s‭ ‬149th birthday,‭ ‬let‭’‬s all help to make this the best country in the world‭!

Happy Canada Day‭!

UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2016

UN International Day for the

Elimination of Racial Discrimination

annual commemoration organized by Cross Cultures magazine

for the Waterloo Region

Free Public event
Thursday March 31 2016
Kitchener City Hall

an open invitation to the entire community to participate and attend …

with THREE entirely different but equally thrilling segments

9:00 am – 1:30 pm
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
8:30 arrivals

9:00 Elder Jean Becker leads indigenous opening prayer
followed by
O’Canada with Cross Cultures signature presentation ..
dignitary greetings * panel discussions, speakers, presentations (multimedia etc), information booths, displays …

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2 – 6 pm
Politics vs Religion
if that topic interests you but you are not from WR .. we can arrange to skype

discussions around this year’s theme:

~ ~ ~

. . . this annual general arts and culture extravaganza encompasses the broader sense of the word culture !
song, dance, instrument, drama, poetry, visual art & photography display, CD & DVD etc

there are many hidden talents in each group and we would love to hear from them and invite them

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for those who have not joined us over the years:

Cross Cultures has been organizing Waterloo Region’s full day FREE event to commemorate the

UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

for educators, students, organizations and the general public ..

since March 21st this year falls on the Monday back from March Break and holy Easter week
the consensus has been that we go with March 31st instead

UN International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination

is observed annually on 21 March. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid pass laws

niemoller silence 5 x 3 5 JPEG

UN International Day for the

Elimination of Racial Discrimination

annual commemoration organized by Cross Cultures magazine

for the Waterloo Region

Free Public event

at Kitchener City Hall

March 21 has been declared the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

and in the 1990s it was being commemorated by the ‘then’ Race Relations Committee of Kitchener Waterloo, of which Cross Cultures magazine was a member. When that committee was de-funded, we took it upon ourselves to continue that important work and Cross Cultures has been commemorating this international day annually

March 21 is also the first day of Spring and renewal, and for some, like myself, it used to be Mothers’ Day
it is also Eid Nawrooz for many others ….

The following demonstrate the wide range of topics and issues that were discussed over the years:

an interactive day of community bridging, education, art and fun!

with something for everyone -with THREE entirely different but equally thrilling segments
9:00 am – 1:30 pm
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

panel discussions, speakers, presentations (multimedia etc), information booths, displays, noon and …

this annual general arts and culture extravaganza encompasses the broader sense of the word culture !
song, dance, instrument, drama, poetry, visual art & photography display, CD & DVD etc

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Thursday March 21 2002


10:45 am
Official Opening Ceremonies –

FLAG SONG singing and drumming

MC Gehan Sabry introducing Aboriginal Elder Millie Falconer

a thanksgiving prayer in the Mohawk language

followed by
O’ Canada
Cross Cultures signature format where youth from different cultures each say one line in their language,
then everyone sings joins in the English and French O’Canada
(symbolism: no matter what our origins, we come together for Canada)

11:00 am
welcome and introduction by co-host City of Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr
dignitary greetings –
* The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario His Honour James K Bartleman
* The Ontario Human Rights Chief Commissioner Keith Norton
* Ken Seiling – Regional Chair
* Lynne Woolstencroft – Mayor of Waterloo
* Doug Craig – Mayor of Cambridge
* Michael Mann – Deputy Chief of Police

11:30 am
Aboriginal Drumming and Dancing

11:45 am
Youth presentations

Lunch and free browsing of community information booths

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

1:00 pm
Panel Discussion and Public Dialogue, moderated by Gehan Sabry with panelists:

* His Honour James K Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
* Keith Norton – Chief Commissioner, The Ontario Human Rights
* Augie Fleras – Professor, Race Relations, Sociology, University of Waterloo
* Barbara Pressman – President, Holocaust Education Committee
* Rachel Wilson – Aboriginal Youth
* Sarah Lawendy – Canadian Muslim Youth
* Narina Nagra – Chair WPIRG

1:00 pm
Racism Workshop
* Shaku Ahluwalia discussing the film “For Angela” and other video documentaries
* Tori Machado – exploring suggestions for combatting racism in the community

special editor’s note:
I was greatly humbled when my fifteen page presentation of past events and about Cross Cultures persuaded His Honour The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Mr James K Bartleman, to make the City of Kitchener his choice (out of eight other cities) as his first official visit, and even ecstatic when His Honour expressed a wish to actively participate as one of the panelists

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Friday March 21 2003


9:00 am
Native Elder Opening Prayer – Jean Becker

9:10 am

opening remarks:
Cross Cultures editor: Gehan Sabry

welcome by co-host City of Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr
dignitary greetings

9:30 am
panel discussion

Darrol Bryant – Professor, UW
How I discovered my own racism, and dealt with it
The American Civil Rights (late 60’s early 70’s) Vietnam War

Augie Fleras – Professor, UW
Racial Profiling

Rob Davis – WRPS Const
How Should the Police deal with the increasing diversity in our community

Narina Nagra –
Identity and fostering anti-racism education and awareness through grassroots organizations and activism

Edwin Laryea –
Harnessing the Rainbow of Diversity, embrace it and make it work for you,
Strategies for Youth Empowerment

Barbara Pressman –
activism in anti-racism and anti-oppression and especially violence against women and children

Abhi Ahluwalia –
Can One Person Make a Difference?

followed by Town Hall discussion

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Tuesday March 23 2004

9:00 am
Native Elder Opening Prayer – Jean Becker

9:10 am

opening remarks:
Cross Cultures editor: Gehan Sabry

welcome by co-host City of Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr
dignitary greetings

9:30 am
“Meditation and Yoga” and Sari demonstrations session
Professor Raj Dubey & Mrs Shanta Dubey

10:00 am
Mania Kay – shares her story of Holocaust Survival

11:00 am
“They lied to you in school”
film & discussion with Sparrow Rose & Jean Becker

“Piece of the Rock” & “Stand by Me”
Professor Carol Ann Weaver

“O’Siem” (Susan Aglucark) presented by students of Sunnyside School

Mandippal & Friends band – Jacob Hespeler Secondary School

browsing the booths and lunch

1:00 pm
Racial Profiling
Panel and Presentation

– Augie Fleras – Professor, Race Relations, University of Waterloo
– Rob Davis- Const. Community Relations, Waterloo Regional Police Services
– Ted Shaw and Kevin Carr – Ontario Human Rights Commission
– Shafiq Hudda – Imam, Islamic Humanitarian Services

3:00 pm
* Islam on Hijab – Sara Lawendy
* Racism & Human Values – Laila Bigelli
* Interfaith – Alaa el Sayed
* Women Equality and Gender – Professor Alicja Muszynski

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

4:00 pm
panel and public dialogue moderated by Edwin W D Laryea

* Randa Farah – Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Western Ontario
* John English – Professor & Executive Director of Centre for International Governance & Innovation (CIGI)
* Michael Lynk – Professor, UWO, formerly with UN Refugee & Human Rights in the Middle East
* Simon Adler – “What Should be the Canadian Perspective”
* Barry Kay – Professor, Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University

4:00 pm
Falungong – Zhenhua He

4:45 pm
“Racism” a Steel Band workshop
Joe Lovell

5:30 pm
Race, Scientific Racism & Racial anti Semitism – Professor Jack Pasternak, University of Waterloo

7:00 pm
“Together Not Each Alone”
Equality of Employment Opportunity

* Professor Ken Westhues, Sociology, University of Waterloo
* Neil Murray – Human Resources and Labour Relations, University of Waterloo
* Marlene Kramer – New Canadian Program, a new Canadian job search experience
* David Vickery – The Working Centre

8:00 pm
“Is Elimination of Racial Discrimination Inevitable” a Baha’i perspective – Karen Ransom
“Baha’i Youth Perspective on Racial Unity” – Ken Lum

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Monday March 21 2005


9:00 am
Native Elder Prayer

9:10 am

opening remarks:
Cross Cultures editor: Gehan Sabry

welcome by co-host City of Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr
dignitary greetings

9:30 am
Students Interact with dignitaries, Browse Booths & Mingle

10:00 am
Armenian Genocide
Aris Babikian
National President – Armenian National Committee of Canada

11:00 am
Video re: Armenian Genocide
Genocides, Wars, Atrocities – St. Mary’s High School Students:
“There will be more Peace, Fairness and Freedom” – Sunnyside Public School

Rap song: “The Reason” Afshin Jafari, BrandonNorris-Lue, Michael Odhiambo
Poem: “The Same Inside” Kimberly Luu
Mandippal Jandu Jacob Hespeler Secondary School

1:00 pm
Waterloo Regional Police Services
Recruitment by Kelly Gibson & Sgt Greg Fiss
Police & Public by Const. Rob Davis, Community Relations, Waterloo Regional Police

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

3:00 pm
Reverse Job Fair – New Canadian Program

3:00 pm
Holocaust Survivor Story – Mania Kay

5:00 pm
Early Canada Days
Judy Greenwood_Speers

5:15 pm
Zonta’s Global Efforts
Joan Westcott

5:30 pm
Eid Norooz – Baha’is on Racism – Badi Woldemariam
Flowers of One Garden
flowers: Shilan Woldemariam, Sama Allah_Karam, Hanan Jaberi, Anna Jaberi, Sanam Rezaei, Sarina Sabet * gardeners: Soran Sabet, Aaron Morgulis
short story: How Easily we can compromise Unita Ahdifard
Poem on racism – Shilan Woldemeriam
songs on Tsunami – video presentations

6:30 pm
Gender & Sexuality Across the Cultures
Prof Harriett Lyons & Barbara Pressman

7:30 pm
Immigrant Women Empowerment
Saadiya Gassim & Fartun Kanyare

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Tuesday March 21 2006


8:30 am
Official Opening – Elder Native Prayer

8:40 am

opening remarks:
Cross Cultures editor: Gehan Sabry

welcome by co-host City of Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr
dignitary greetings

9:00 am
Aboriginal Students Association University of Waterloo – panel
“Stereotyping … Identity … Diversity”
Dialogue with all attendees

11:00 am
2 x 30 min Video(s) titles such as: “They Lied To You In School”

Entertainment & Browsing booths & Filling In Passports

2:00 pm
International Skills Fair +++++ Network +++++
Businesses meet extraordinary New Canadian professionals
Explore International opportunities
Speakers and Discussions addressing topics such as:
Employers satisfied with hiring New Canadian Professionals
Obstacles and Barriers faced by Foreign Educated / Trained Professionals
Issues around Diversity, Racism, Equity in Employment
Self Made Successful Business Immigrants

5:00 pm
Cultural Component

6:00 pm
Keeping You In Mind – Marcela Elizondo
photography exhibit / meet the artist Reception

6:30 pm
Silent Auction

7:00 pm
Peace Concert dedicated to Tibet

Guest Speakers:
* Lama Karma Phuntsok
* Professor Darol Bryant of Renison College
* Jean Becker, Aboriginal Services Coordinator at St Paul’s College

Musicians and Singers:
* Good Hearted Woman Singers
* John McKinley’s Band de Jour
* Sarah Gropp
* Organic Groove Collective
* Frets & Ivories (Special Guests)
* Lisbeth Haddad
* The Opportunities
* Sandy Jrup
* Keith Thom

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Wednesday March 21 2007



9:00 am
Native Elder Opening Prayer – Jean Becker

9:10 am

opening remarks:
Cross Cultures editor: Gehan Sabry

welcome by co-host City of Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr
dignitary greetings

9:30 am
“Racism is a learned behaviour”
Florence Juma

“Being the change”
Me Magic- Satyam & Freedom Malhotra

Nancy Bernhardt – Amnesty International

all dealing with youth issues and social justice:

the festival will run two hours then repeat itself
Mela’s Lunch – 10 min
A young girl is mistreated in a new school just because she looks different
It’s in Everyone of Us – 5 min
Song and still photos about belonging
The Silent Shout – 10 min
Animation about landmines
New Moves – 20 min
Orientation video for newcomers to Canada
Inuit Games – 23 min
A teenager from southern Canada finds his athletic ability tested when participating in traditional Inuit games
A Simple Water Pump – 12 min
Canadian schoolchildren fundraise to purchase water pumps for villages in India
Plus there will be a lot of 2-5 minute surprise “shorts”

Sr & Jr ABLE Class Students
A R Kaufman Public School
Music from
Women of the World International-Dalom Kids and Splash – Ndincdeni

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Friday March 28, 2008

since the actual day (March 21) coincides to be Good Friday, we have re-scheduled to the following Friday to allow for schools to settle back after Easter and March Break


8:30 am
arrival, registration and free mingling “casual reception with light refreshments”

9:00 am
we ALWAYS start the day with a Native Elder prayer – Jean Becker

followed by
O Canada
(Cross Cultures’ signature format is to invite students to say a line
in one of the languages, then we all sing O Canada together in English)

opening remarks:
Cross Cultures editor: Gehan Sabry

welcome by co-host City of Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr
dignitary greetings

Chief of Police Matthew Torigian
will speak to the students and everyone present about this year’s theme
– this will be an interactive session

10 am
Wanda Cakebread – a retired World Relgions Catholic Board teacher
will provide experiences and insights into the reality of “Mutual Respect” in our daily lives
be prepared to interact with others present

11 am
St Gregory’s Guitar Club students will delight us
while we browse the information booths

11:30 am
Rukhsana Khan
This presentation features her book “The Roses in my Carpet”
based on the story of her Afghan refugee foster child.
The story illustrates the life of a young boy living with loss and terror-filled
memories where time is measured by the next bucket of water,
the next portion of bread, and the next call to prayer. Despite overwhelming
obstacles, the young boy longs for freedom, independence and safety.
It’s when life is at its most fragile that the strength to endure grows
out of need but the strength to dream comes from within
Rukhsana uses humour to deal with such serious subjects as child
sponsorship and poverty. The presentation includes a visual tour of the
refugee camp she visited in Peshawar, Pakistan.

12:30 pm
Noon Hour concert

2:00 pm
Gebrehiwot (Gebre) Berihun – Intercultural Health Worker
will present a workshop showing a 20 minute video
about the history of the social construction of race
and have a discussion about
how white and colour people can work towards the elimination of racism

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

3:00 pm
Freedom of Speech
discussions in the Council Chambers

will include :
Macleans article by Mark Steyn – Prophet Mohamed Cartoons, CBC’s Cross Country by Rex Murphy etc
and the important role and mandate of the Human Rights Commissions


Barbara Hall was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human
Rights Commission in November 2005, after 40 years as a community
worker, lawyer and municipal politician. She served three terms as a
city councillor, and as Toronto’s mayor from 1994 to 1997. From 1998 to
2002 she headed the federal government’s National Strategy on Community
Safety and Crime Prevention. Ms. Hall also practised criminal and
family law, was a member of the Ontario Health Ministry’s Health
Results Team, and lectured nationally and internationally on urban and
social issues. She has a strong record of bringing diverse groups
together to build healthy communities.

Hesham has university degrees in mechanical engineering, psychology and
anthropology, with thesis on anti-Semitism. Hesham writes about the
complex issues that face Muslims and Islam in
the west, as well as about political issues involving Muslim and Arab
nations in the world. He also co-hosts the radio show Islam Faith &
Cultures on Faith FM 94.3. Hesham has long been an advocate of peace
and harmony among religions and peoples.
Many of Hesham’s writings are published as letters or opinions
in various newspapers and magazines in Canada, and around the world.
Hesham is also a public speaker on the topic of Muslims and Islam in
the west and is proficient in Arabic, English, and French, and gets by
in German. Hesham was fortunate enough to be born into a multi-faith,
multi-cultural, multi-national community in a suburb of Cairo, Egypt,
that brought together people from different faiths, races and nations.
During his extensive travels, he made a point of visiting a Nazi
concentration camp in Germany, near Munich – Dachau – where large
numbers of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis were deliberately
exterminated. Hesham served for two years on the Readers’ Advisory
Board of a mainstream Canadian newspaper

Current Pen Canada President- One of the largest Canadian and
International organizations on Freedom of Expression.
Actively works for promotion of literature, culture, freedom of
expression, and pluralism
The summary of his position is that Racial Discrimination leads to
curtailment of Free Expression and vice versa.
Affiliations: Board member and Chair of Writers in Exile committee –
Pen Canada, President – Rasikarts, a group dedicated to the excellence
in South Asian theater in Canada, Secretary – Writers Forum,
a literary group of South Asian Canadians , and past secretary
of Mulsim Canadian congress

Khurrum is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School
and the University of Waterloo. While at law school he represented
the interests of the Canadian Muslim community before various
legislative committees including the Senate Committee on the
Anti-Terrorism Legislation, and the Parliamentary Committee
on Citizenship and Immigration. He also worked as a law student
at the Parkdale Community Legal Clinic (PCLC),
assisting low-income residents of the Parkdale community
in the labour and employment law area.
He is one of four law-students who filed human rights complaints
against Maclean’s Magazine for its refusal to publish a response
to its article “The Future Belongs to Islam”

3:00 pm
in the upper level Rotunda

where employers seeking the exquisite and unique skills and languages
of new Canadians and foreign trained professionals could network

6:00 pm
Bridging the Gap productions
“WE give out a ‘magic formula’ for healthy relationships
to all those who attend. It’s fun filled, with live songs”
(Enlightenment Through Entertainment)
about promoting healthy marital relationships
why do people fall in and out of love

As the afternoon and evening unfold, we enjoy more culture and art, wrapping up with a

7:00 pm

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Friday March 27th 2009

we ALWAYS start the day with an Elder Aboriginal prayer – Jean Becker

followed by

opening remarks:
Cross Cultures editor: Gehan Sabry

welcome by co-host City of Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr
dignitary greetings

* Chief of Police MATT TORIGIAN speaks to the youth

* Personal experience of discrimination
Rowan Sohbi
Aruba Khurshid
2 students from Sunnyside School

* Racial Discrimination issues
Chloe Calendar & Lisbeth Haddad of Skylark
(empowering motivational speakers, singers, performers)
Chloe Callender and Lisbeth Haddad are motivational educational facilitators.
As Skylark they provide interactive presentations and workshops, engaging
participants in activities aimed at freeing them from cultural and racial bias.

It is frightening to think of more of us growing up to continue negative
stereotyping and hatred of “others”. Guided by a spirit of unity and mutual
respect and utilizing innovative creative methods, Skylark is energised and
filled with new hope each time we share our knowledge, experience and

then we will open the floor for discussion

Eastwood Collegiate Institute
Islamic School of Cambridge
St Michael’s Secondary School
Mrs King’s School

browsing the booths
brown bag lunch (lunch is not provided)

4 pm
in the Council Chambers

* Defining and understanding HATE CRIME:
and the responsibility of the entire community to strive to eliminate it

Sgt Gerald Nugent – Hate Crime Extremist Investigative Team

also sharing a few words on the Francis Pitia case will be
Detective Roy Felder, and the president of the South Sudanese community

This is beneficial for professional development and awareness around cultural issues,
contributing to the well-being of our youth and the community in general
“Certificate of Completion” available upon request

short break
interactive discussion

7:00 pm
back in the Rotunda


* Grand Philharmonic Children’s Choir

* Waterloo Regional Police Band

* Starlight Steel Band

* Malachi & the Music

* Mrs King’s School
Vanessa Witt
Taylor Jasztrab
Maya Deutschlander
Crystal Dorscht
Pareesa Bina
Sam Martinello

* Barry Shainbaum
singer, guitarist, photographer

* Mandippal
acoustic, pop rock

* Mark Evans
guitar accompanied songs

* Michelle & Sam
easy feeling songs

Derek Sabry


2yLite The Titan

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Friday March 26 2010

Native Elder Opening Prayer – Jean Becker

followed by

opening remarks:
Cross Cultures editor: Gehan Sabry

welcome by co-host City of Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr
dignitary greetings

9:00 am
Youth Empowerment
Matthew Torigian, Chief of Police

9:30 am
Barbara Pressman

10:30 am
AFRICAN storyteller
Rev Florence A Juma

11:00 am
Social Awareness of Human Trafficking of Women & Children
St Michael’s School

11:45 am
Amnesty International
presentation by Anita and Larry Nickerson

TALENTS from various schools

bring your own lunch & browse the booths

1:00 pm
in the council chambers

discussion led by Graham Baechler – Sunnyside Public School

1:40 pm
‘The Story of Human Rights’ video presentation

1:50 pm
a group of WAYVE students are initiating this … all welcome!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

3:00 pm
* Democracy
Anti-Racism, Dignity & RESPECT
can we be honest about how well we are doing?
an interactive dialogue … Twn Hall …

3:00 pm
* REACH an open GLOBE
a mini Trade Fare
in the Upper Level Rotunda

6:00 pm

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Wednesday March 23 2011

the theme does not exclude addressing other issues and current concerns

Native Elder Opening Prayer – Jean Becker
since we all live on Native / Aboriginal / First Nations … land we start with an elder prayer then . . .

followed by
– O’CANADA – a signature activity of Cross Cultures’ is to have a male and female – of several ethnic and linguistic backgrounds – say or sing a line in another language (must be coordinated with me to avoid duplication) and then EVERYONE joins in English – symbolism: whatever ancestry … we all pledge allegiance to Canada

opening remarks:
Cross Cultures editor: Gehan Sabry

welcome by co-host City of Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr
dignitary greetings

9:00 am
“The Stages of Genocide”
Natanael Mateus Ruiz

10:00 am
“Race vs the Human Genetic Tree”
Rev Dr Clifford Blake
guest speaker

The biggest stumbling to the elimination of racial discrimination is lack of knowledge about races. Hear some startling scientific facts that will push back the veils and create better understanding of each other.

1. Are humans divided by races. Is the term race a psychological and social construct – does it have any scientific basis?

2. Modern DNA research reconstructed where human populations originated and traced the path by which they spread throughout the world.

3. DNA?

4. Learn about a human genetic tree which researchers have constructed and its root and branches.

5. So what about skin colour and other differences in human appearance and traits?

6. Which ethnic group is at the root of the human genetic tree? The results of the research reveal this information.

7. How close are the root and branches of the human tree?

8. Some important questions for us:
a. What personal adjustments to our belief systems have to be made in order to absorb these findings?
b. How do these findings affect our understanding and respect for each other?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
student and other presentations

slide show of several visits to Africa
by Cathy MacLellan

Fair Vote Canada
by Anita Nicherson

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
… we prefer to unwind after a serious morning .. so we ask schools to contribute with artistic talents – song, music (individual and group), drama skits, monologues … dance expressions, ….. etc
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

afternoon feature . . .

“How can we create a fair and just society?

this discussion will be led by Graham Baechler
(Sunnyside School)

The Story of Human Rights
presented by Angela Ilasi
The purpose of Youth for Human Rights International is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace. Their most recent resource for this objective is a short documentary called “The Story of Human Rights”. This compelling documentary is currently being used by educators, police, human rights organizations and groups all across Canada and the world to educate children and adults on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights”

The day continues
… and students and teachers are welcome to stay or return with family and friends

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
that would have been the rest of the program, but unfortunately it was a heavy storm day and we had to conclude at that point .. rescheduling for April 8th .. see further below ..
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

interactive DIALOGUE
3:00 pm . . . community sharing

5:00 pm
* Hon Karen Redman
* Cathy MacLellan
* Prof Debra Chapman
* Prof Peter Eglin
* Peter Thurley

discussion topics:

…. as viewed by the west
(is the European and North American model satisfactory),
and in places such as Egypt and other countries of the Middle East for example where people are ready to sacrifice everything for their freedom to vote and speak and think


within a democracy and under dictatorships

their value, wisdom and how we should nurture them

~ ~ ~ ~
Egypt’s fifth Nobel for the youth of Tahrir Square

Barack Obama:
We must educate our children to become like young Egyptian people

Britain’s Prime Minister:
We must consider teaching the Egyptian revolution in schools

For the first time, we see people make a revolution and then clean the streets afterwards

Prime Minister of Italy:
There is nothing new in Egypt. Egyptians are making history as usual

Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway:
Today we are all Egyptians

Austrian President Heinz Fischer:
The people of Egypt, are the greatest people of earth; and they deserve a Nobel Prize for Peace


6:00 pm

KW Children’s Drama Workshop
Improv Performance Troupe
Kenneth Lefebvre – instructor
Payton LeConte
Tess Hudson
Eric Ellis
Kyle Claeys
Carter Heer
Audrey White
Rachel Loewen
Kassandra Loewen

6:30 pm
Andy Griffith
acoustic folk rock singer / songwriter who writes from gut feeling and personal experiences

6:50 pm
“El Sombrero Azul, Danzas y Cultura”
in English
“The Blue Hut, dance and culture”
dance to Folklore music as well as Modern music from El Salvador,
with 10 dancers and 4 support staff
and a group of teenage dancers for Merengue and Cumbia

EL SOMBRERO AZUL started their performances in July 2010
and have already been to Ottawa, Stratford Festival, Brantford, in additoin to numerous presentations in K-W

Eliseo Martell
Mayte Wiebe
Jocelyn Henriquez
Shannalee Brown
Vilma Guzman
Juona Paunoiu
Sonia Navas – Instructor
Amely Henriquez – Assistant

7:00 pm
Al Carter band
Al Carter is a KW Blues performer, he plays unique versions of old favourites we’re sure you’ll enjoy – a three piece band

7:30 pm
KW Children’s Drama Workshop
a Registered Non-Profit Charitable teaching theatre school for children and youth 3-16 years of age, that provides opportunities for today’s youth to grow healthy self esteems & confidence while learning and performing in theatre arts through acting & improv classes, workshops in stage fighting, dance and how to audition and full scale productions of plays, musicals, pantomimes, comedies etc. solely for children & youth in the region
At KWCDW the children and youth truly take the lead! Believe…. Belong……BECOME!
Belle (5:07)
Capri (3:00)
Human Again (2:58)
Flames of Paris (2:30)
Be Our Guest (3:24)

Renaissance School of the Arts
Melanie April Fries & Deanne Bingleman – instructors / choreographers
Katie Borths
Lily Villenvue
Savannah Brewer
Sophia Gracan

Joy Garofalo, Deanne Bingleman, Chelan Fuller – Instructor team for this presentation
Mikaila Beach
Sarah Hughes
Franny Moser
Rachel Parent
Payton LeConte
Marley Sullivan

Anjuli Dutta
Joya Dutta
Taylor Ottmann
Amber Owens Hughes
Olivia Schaefer
Daniel Protedger
Gabrielle Feldmann
Rosy Qubrosi
Ruby Qubrosi
Mary Adams
Charlie Brohman

8:00 pm

Humanitarian pop / rock singer songwriter
and her 5 piece band

8:20 pm
Down Hips “Bellydonnas”
bellydance performance
Down Hips is the largest bellydance studio in the K-W area, and a welcoming place for women of all ages, shapes & sizes! Classes are fun and accepting, with attention to proper technique to provide a strong foundation for ambitious students who want to challenge themselves, and for those who want to dance for pure recreation. The studio is home of the dance troupe the Down Hips “Bellydonnas”, which is usually a group of 10 women, brought together by their love of bellydance, friendship and their excitement for performance. The Bellydonnas dance to share their joy with both the bellydance community and beyond

8:40 pm
Mike Neeb
Lonliest Monks
4 original songs
5 piece roots reggae band, combining local talent with Zimbabwean influences

9:00 pm
El Sombrero Azul second – dance

9:10 pm
Anjael & Friends or ….”Anjael-the man with the blue face”
his style of playing guitar is most unusual. An exponent of an esoteric spiritual school termed ‘Rooh-Ani’ Anjael plays Neo Flamenco Sambra style, fusing traditional Mid Eastern with Spanish Flamenco and western Jazz Rock with powerful vocals

10:15 pm
Mark Evans
Mark is a singer, songwriter and enjoys playing different instruments in different genres to entertain. He loves all the arts and hopes that the world will see how music and art are a communication medium that crosses all boundries to touch people in a positive way and can be shared to build a global community

Far From Rich
Richard Garvey solo

Teodor Rosca
composer, guitar player and singer about peace

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

April 8 2011

3:00 pm

* Debra Chapman
Professor of Political Science, Global Studies, WLU

* Peter Eglin
Professor of Sociology, WLU

discussion topics:
…. as viewed by the west
(is the European and North American model satisfactory),
and in places such as Egypt and other countries of the Middle East for example where people are ready to sacrifice everything for their freedom to vote and speak and think

5:00 pm
interactive DIALOGUE . . . community sharing

6:50 pm
“El Sombrero Azul, Danzas y Cultura”
in English
“The Blue Hut, dance and culture”
dance to Folklore music as well as Modern music from El Salvador,
with 10 dancers and 4 support staff
and a group of teenage dancers for Merengue and Cumbia
EL SOMBRERO AZUL started their performances in July 2010
and have already been to Ottawa, Stratford Festival, Brantford, in additoin to numerous presentations in K-W

7:00 pm
Al Carter band
Al Carter is a KW Blues performer, he plays unique versions of old favourites we’re sure you’ll enjoy – a three piece band

9:00 pm
El Sombrero Azul second – dance

9:10 pm
Anjael & Friends or ….”Anjael-the man with the blue face”
His style of playing guitar is most unusual. An exponent of an esoteric spiritual school termed ‘Rooh-Ani’ Anjael plays Neo Flamenco Sambra style, fusing traditional Mid Eastern with Spanish Flamenco and western Jazz Rock with powerful vocals

10:15 pm
Mark Evans
Mark is a singer, songwriter and enjoys playing different instruments in different genres to entertain. He loves all the arts and hopes that the world will see how music and art are a communication medium that crosses all boundries to touch people in a positive way and can be shared to build a global community

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Wednesday March 21 2012

8:30 am
Jean Becker
First Nations Elder – opening prayer

followed by
* O’Canada
* dignitary greetings

* words to the students from
Mayor Brenda Halloran
Chief of Police Matt Torigian

9:00 am
Jean Becker
First Nations Elder
speaking about Aboriginal issues

9:30 am
WLU Aboriginal Students Association
presentation and ongoing workshop on craft making

10:00 am
Graham Baechler from Sunnyside PS
conducts a very vibrant interactive dialogue focusing on the question
“How do we create a fair and just society?”
issues concerning human rights, social justice, and valuing our diversity
will be at the heart of the discussion.
Participants will be encouraged to think about how individuals can effect large scale, positive change in our world

12 noon CONCERT
Aboriginal Drumming
and numerous talents from Cambridge Islamic School

1:00 pm
documentary and discussion
a documentary film that will change the way you think about race,
it follows motivational speaker Anthony McLean into the ethnically explosive city of Brampton, Ontario – where he is forced to critically examine his own identity while mentoring six youth grappling with theirs

3:00 pm
Citizenship & Immigration
Hon Jim Karygiannis
Liberal Critic – Multiculturalism & Citizenship
Citizenship & Immigration Standing Committee member
Byron Williston
GPC candidate for Kitchener-Centre

community interactive dialogue followed by a panel discussion
all points of view are welcome,
let’s open the dialogue, hear each other
hopefully reach a better understanding
and recognize that the common ground that binds us is:
CANADA and being Canadian (wherever we once came from!)

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Thursday March 21 2013


we are starting later than every year … and hope the weather holds ….

9:30 elder prayer
by Jean Becker

followed by O Canada & dignitary greetings

10 am
Paper Wars:
Oral History vs Colonial Records when determining Algonquin Identity

by Heather Majaury – is mixed blood Algonquin Omamawinini Anishinaabekwe who grew up in the Ottawa Valley part of the traditional territory of the Original Omamawinini Anishinaabeg now known as Algonquin

11 am
several short presentations by:
*students of the Islamic School of Cambridge
*Sayed Alam on Racism against Native Rohingya
* Nick Shrubsole – Indigenous Spirituality
and open interactive discussions

NOON free browse etc

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Friday March 21 2014

theme this year is APARTHEID…
the history of the day originated in South Africa, and with the passing of Madiba
discussing his struggle, the kind of man he was and his leadership

presentations on racial issues
local and global human rights of refugees
women & children in troubled areas around the world

a Noon Concert and an evening Peace Concert

a panel discussion on APARTHEID

Elder Jean Becker – indigenous prayer
O’ Canada
dignitary greetings

9:30 am
Heather Majaury
(Algonquin Nation) is a singer actor, playwright, theatre director, workshop facilitator, and public educator who specializes in theatre for social change that encourages intercultural dialogue and personal reflection on issues of current and public concern. She is currently developing a one woman show called “This is My Drum” which she hopes to present and tour in 2015. She believes one way to take action toward liberation is to reclaim the art of play. Something that younger people are already experts at. So all she really does is copy the experts

10:30 am
Eney Oyual
will be speaking about her story coming to Canada and the difficulty of being a newcomer and the struggle of adapting to a new place, about difficulties with language barriers, ignorance, and racism, then she will shed some light on the genocide in South Sudan, and the challenges in the UN Camps and Compounds from her experience as a refugee, and her project around raising funds to support the children in the UN Camps in South Sudan. Eney is in her fifth year at Monsignor Doyle catholic Secondary School she is18 years old and feels that she contributes to her community quite a bit. Eney is of the ethnic Nuer Nation in South Sudan. Her future plans are to become a children’s psychiatrist and work in war torn countries to rehabilitate children who have experienced emotional turmoil at the hands of war and disaster

11:30 am
“Disrupt the World with Dance”
To truly eliminate racism and discrimination we must call people to question and deconstruct their current ways of thinking. Therefore, we have created a piece which films the Monsignor Doyle Dance Crew dancing in conventional spaces throughout our school community. This disruption is meant to break patterns and routines of thinking and acting to call attention to issues of racism and discrimination. Furthermore, the dancers are dancing in areas of the community that are important to them. This is meant to remind us of the powerful connection we have with our community and the environment and to connect our First Nations brothers and sisters. One theme of Native Spirituality we discussed as a dance collective and strongly identified with is the connection between the human spirit and the environment / community. Calling attention to this theme reinforces our need to embrace different communities, cultures and environments to view the earth as a whole rather than in parts. Finally, we have chosen our dance choreography and song by Ed Sheeran called “Give Me Love” to interweave the film together. This piece reminds us that healing comes out of love. If we, as human beings, can embrace love then we will move toward reconciliation of body, mind, soul, community and earth. The answer is love…..“Give me Love”
Teacher/Creative Concept: LaureenDamaren

N O O N      C O N C E R T

Mino Ode Kwewak N’gamowak – Good Hearted Women Singers
An Aboriginal Women’s Drum Group

12:30 pm
Youth for Human Rights award winning presentation

1:00 pm
Anwar Arkani
a Rohingya by race and Burmese by birth, at present living in Kitchener and active in awareness campaign for gross human rights violation issues in Burma

2:00 pm
“Subliminal Messages in the Media: Racial Profiling and Stereotyping”
WLU students workshop presentation on race and the media

3:30 pm
Racism and Conflict
ABS Association of Black Students at Laurier workshop
The Association of Black Student students is a continuously growing student run organization that acts as a resource and service center for the community. Its aim is to create a safe environment for students to connect and lean about issues concerning the African diaspora within the Laurier community, and throughout history. Their mission is to share the values of Solidarity, Empowerment, and Progress. Through their actions and events, the Association hopes others will come to embrace these values in their day to day lives. Let me know if you need anything else

the afternoon is an extravaganza of rich culture and art
. . a can’t miss line up of cultural, spiritual, artistic wonder!

6 pm concurrently:

PEACE CONCERT in the Rotunda

6:00 pm
Rhythms of Steel
Carol Taylor, Wendell Claxton, Lisbeth Haddad and Karren Asumang – a newly formed group of 4 musicians with Lisbeth Haddad on tenor pan, guitar and vocals, Wendell Claxton on double seconds, Carol Taylor on guitar pans and Karren Asumang on the djembe. They are all originally from the Caribbean except for Karren who is from Ghana, West Africa

6:45 pm
Samantha Estoesta
two poems of spoken word
Samantha Estoesta is the current Executive Director of Laurier Students Public Interest Group and a future graduate at Royal Roads University of Intercultural Communications! Samantha is a social justice purveyor and an inspiration to many

7:00 pm
Time Continuum
performs music that spans centuries of different types of music from medieval to modern times -including jazz, blues, rock, new age, classical, country, and pop
David Peterson plays lead guitar, fiddle, mandolin and acoustic guitar and has been performing with Suzanne Glaser who sings and plays the Celtic harp and keyboards since the early ’80s.
Recently, David and Suzanne have hooked up with local musicians John Long on keyboards, Dennis Pahanic on drums, Paul Cooper on bass and Boris Pahanic on guitar

8:00 pm
Mark Evans
Canoe Eye View Band

8:30 pm
Chambers Band

also at 6pm in the Council Chambers
i n t e r a c t i v e PANEL DISCUSSION on Apartheid
~ definition
~ historic and global examples
~ impact on women and children
~ Madiba’s personality in unifying and forgiving (i e Nelson Mandela)

each panelist will give a 5-7 minute perspective and then dialogue with the audience and the other panelists .. not Q&A

*David Heap with GazaArk (skyping from London, ON)
David is Associate Professor of French and Linguistics at the University of Western Ontario, and father of two. David has participated in the 2009-2010 Gaza Freedom March. A Steering Committee member withe Canadian Boat to Gaza, since the campaign began in 2010, he was on board the Tahrir when it was stopped by the Greek authorities in July 2011, and again in November 2011 when captured by the Israeli navy. Deported to Canada after six days in Israeli prison, he also joined the Swedish ship Estelle to Gaza for part of its voyage in September 2012, representing the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, and he visited Gaza in October 2012 with a group of linguist colleagues (including Chomsky). He has been speaking about both previous Freedom Flotilla voyages and the current Gaza Ark campaign to challenge the blockade from Palestine in the spring of 2014

* Lisa Yellow-Quill
Blue Thunderbird Woman
bringing the Indigenous perspective
Osha-wiscoe Binehsi-kwe is known as Lisa Yellow-Quill, and her Ndoodem is Pihzew. She is a Nehiyaw-eskwew, Dakota-wiayaa and Nekaway-kwe, registered to Treaty 1 Territory: Long Plain First Nation located in southern Manitoba — She has many years of experience providing advocacy, support and counseling to girls, women and families living with multiple-barriers, oppressions, and experiences of violence both in crisis situations and in complex long-term processes. Her non-violent anti-oppression work in Vancouver, BC gives her a strong foundational understanding and analysis of future, current and historical implications to healthy and wholistic life span development and socioeconomic sustainability for Indigenous people, particularly Turtle Island’s Original Girls and Women living in marginalised colonial circumstances. This foundation has supported her ability to be a noted spokesperson on behalf of Turtle Island’s Murdered and Missing Girls and Women. Lisa contributes her own sustainability in the anti-colonial movement to her understanding of her role as Pipe Carrier, Sundancer, Keeper of several Ceremonies, and Woman. Lisa is a BSW graduate and is currently a Master of Social Work Aboriginal Field of Study student at WLU, graduating in June 2014 as a Wholistic Practitioner

* Alla Darwish, PhD
originally from the city of Nablus in Palestine.
His family in Nablus are current owners of olive and fig farms in the outskirts of the city.
Alla grew up mostly in Port-Rowan, Ontario, Canada. Living on a small apple farm.
He attended the University of Waterloo for his Bachelor degree in Biochemistry and PhD in Medicinal Chemistry.
Alla worked as a post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University in the field of Nuclear Medicine for two years.
Currently, he is a scientist at the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization in the discovery department.
His research involves developing new imaging and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals for cancer. Alla Darwish’s personal ideology is “equality for all regardless where you live”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Saturday March 21 2015

10:00 am
opening ceremony

followed by

1:00 pm
* i n t e r a c t i v e p a n e l d i s c u s s i o n
(not Q & A)
FREEDOM of speech, thought, religion …

each panelist will give a 5-7 minute perspective and then dialogue with the audience and the other panelists
~ definition of freedom
~ religious cartoons
~ distinction between freedom of speech and hate speech
~ historic and global examples
~ impact on minorities
~ Bill C-51

* Munir Pervaiz
is a writer and activist, he has been the former board member and Chair of Writers in Exile committee at PEN Canada. and is currently the
– secretary of Writers Forum Canada,
– director of Progressive Writers Association Canada, and
– President of Muslim Canadian Congress
He writes a weekly Op-Ed for Urdu Times and also blogs at Huffington Post
and he is also a recipient of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to Canada

* Jay Chagnon
A visible presence in the Waterloo Region Arts community since 2007, Jay was co-host of Rogers “daytime” with Susan Cook-Scheerer for three seasons. Since that time, he has continued to work as a host in residence for
The Idea Exchange’s “Friday Night Art Live, Grand River Shows” and Emcee:
The Total Woman Show
The Food & Drink Show
Jay is a graduate of The Ontario College of Art & Design from the Drawing and Painting program

* Jane Richard
will speak to the freedom theme from the perspective of Personhood for the pre-born and how it relates to historical human rights struggles through race, gender and age. Jane is a former teacher and business woman that has worked with the KW Right to Life organization for over 20 years. Jane is president KW Right to Life – a nonprofit charity for 42 years in the Waterloo Region, an Educational Prolife Resource Center serving the Community in areas of Counseling, Presentations, Exhibits and a Reference Library on all Life issues: Prenatal Development, Abortion, Infanticide, Euthanasia, Reproductive Technology and Chastity please check the table display – that has TV presentations and literature along with someone to discuss these issues

* Anwar Shah Arkani
is a lifelong activist and human rights defender for Rohingya people. He has served in different organizations since 1984. He left his country of origin, Burma, in 1984 when Rohingya lost their citizenship rights in their ancestral land after the 1982 Citizenship Law was enacted. Anwar spent about five years in Bangladesh and later managed to go to Thailand where he spent the next ten years as an illegal immigrant. In 1998 Anwar was resettled in Canada as a government sponsored refugee. Shortly after he was also awarded a scholarship by the United State Information Agency [for Burmese Students] to study at the Indiana University. He graduated with Bachelor of Science in December 2002. He returned to Canada in 2003. In 2006-7 Anwar rescued and helped thousands of stranded Rohingya at the Thai-Burma border, who were caught by Thai authorities while fleeing from Burma to Thailand and Malaysia using fishing boats through the Bay of Bengal. Anwar was invited by NGOs to talk at the United Nations, Geneva, about the Rohingya’s plights; first time in March 2009 at the UNHRC, and the second time in April 2009 at Durban Review Conference, UN Geneva. Anwar is the founder and president of the Rohingya Association of Canada. He has been helping the newly resettled Rohingya in Kitchener since their arrival in 2007. He has been a frequent speaker at Public Schools and Settlement Agencies in K-W area about Rohingya’s background, live in the refugee camps in Bangladesh and their plights in Burma. He has also been working tirelessly in creating awareness among Canadians about Rohingya’s plights, and a frequent speaker at conferences related to Rohingya’s current issue. He works as an IT professional in Waterloo for a living

Norm Klassen
(d.phil. University of Oxford) is Associate Professor and past Chair of English at St Jerome’s University, Waterloo, Ontario. The author of a book on Chaucer and another on incarnational humanism, he recently returned from a sabbatical spent in London, England, where he worked on a book with the provisional title Chaucer’s Tyranny-Resistant Fellowship of the Imagination. He lives in Hamilton with his wife and youngest son. Two other sons are away at university

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Thursday March 31 2016

8:30 am

9:00 am
Opening Ceremonies:
· Elder Jean Becker leads indigenous opening prayer
· followed by O’Canada, in English and in French with Daniel Kelley & two other students
· Dignitaries bringing greetings
student trustees bringing greetings from WCDSB
Karen Hakim
Sebastian Monsalve

9:30 am
Harold Albrecht on Politics and Faith

9:40 am
Catherine Fife, MPP for Kitchener Waterloo

10:00 am
Break: students browse the displays

10:15 am
Musical presentation:
4 min song of peace or a play on peace (Grade 7 or 8 class)

10:30 am
Empowerment Talk
Carla Beharry
a proud Inter-Cultural Canadian, born and raised with a Guyanese Father, and a British Mother. Carla began mentoring women and girls in Guyana and Belize, 13 years ago. Her work abroad encompasses teaching sexual health & HIV education, leading women’s empowerment groups, and encouraging women to have a voice in standing up to end domestic violence. Most recently, Carla started her own mentorship group, Girls in the World, designed for teen girls in Canada to have a space to discuss gender, identity, race, self-confidence and self-worth. The groups are lead with the intention of supporting teens in rising up against discrimination, while cultivating courage, kindness, and compassion.

Carla’s talk will be an interactive forum for teens. All attendees will be given an opportunity to ask anonymous questions about culture, race, identity, and equality. We will work together, as a group to create clarity, and will work within the belief that educating children and teens, holding space for honest questions, and honouring our diverse, multicultural world is the only path to true freedom and liberation for all beings

11:00 am
Student Senate will lead a panel discussion WCDSB

Politics vs Religion, The Challenges to promoting Peace and the need for Equity
(Sebastian is organizing the Student Senate for this, along with Karen Hakim)

Sebastian Monsalve (Student Trustee and Facilitator of the panel discussion)
Justin Temple
Ben Cook
Rajpreet Sidhu
Joshua Vito

11:30 am
students will eat their lunches in the rotunda
· Cultural food sampling from different restaurants available for students. We need student volunteers to call places, and Gehan will help them with how to do this. She is willing to come to the school to meet with students to get them started (and sign volunteer hour forms for those who wish to participate either for the food or for other capacities)

12:00 am
Lincoln Heights students WRDSB
8 students have prepared short speeches of their opinions on this years theme Politics vs religion

12:20 am
Politics vs Religion
panel Resurrection students
PowerPoint on Racism & Peace
Jonathan Stern
is also an Ambassador for Camp Micah, and will also talk about Camp Micah which is a really wonderful Social Justice Camp available for students

Blue scarf campaign for Peace

1:00 am
Greetings from Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener

1:10 am
Islamic School students presentations

1:30 am
morning wrap up activity
Game: Join the Dots, Resurrection lead this activity

2:00 am
Politics vs Religion

* Professor Norman Klassen
The Western Separation of Religion and Politics: A Paradox of Christian Humanism . . . building on his comments from last year’s discussion about the medieval Christian poet Geoffrey Chaucer: that his vision is for the togetherness of a pilgrimaging community. He gives a picture of what it means to recognize endless depths in one another: a responsibility to stay in dialogue with them. This year Professor Klassen builds on that with reference to another Christian writer, the influential novelist Marilynne Robinson. She likewise starts from the idea that “people are images of God” and ends with democracy as “the inevitable consequence of this kind of religious humanism”. Professor Klassen will ponder the effectiveness of these two writers as writers, precisely because they recognize the importance of freedom both for their characters and their readers. So freedom, including political freedom, is paradoxically bound up with a religious vision that has developed in the West as Christian humanism

* Doug Thomas
president – Secular Connexion Séculière
Good without gods ∞ Moral sans dieux
Secular Connexion Séculière, a national organization that acts as a communication nexus for secular humanists, advocates for secular humanist rights in Canada, and speaks out for persecuted atheists around the world
Doug Thomas on the Subject of Politics vs Religion:
He sees the concept of “politics vs religion” as an unfortunate idea that implies that they cannot co-exist and that one must somehow supersede the other. Doug promotes the idea that democratic governments must avoid interference at the systemic level by religions, but that individuals should be able to bring their religious beliefs to the table as long as they do not insist on imposing their religion on other believers or on non-believers. At the same time, laws should avoid impeding the expression of personal belief or non-belief by individuals. The gold standard should be the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the case law developed from it by the Supreme Court of Canada

* Michael Clifton
is a founding partner in the law firm, Clifton Kok LLP, serves in the local lay ministry of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a member of the Steering Committee of Interfaith Grand River, and has been active in the community as a concert producer and founder of the Strummerfest rock music festival. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from UW, is a husband, father and grandfather. Michael will speak on the point that we ought not to seek to muzzle our politicians in regard to their religious convictions, nor expect them to compromise them for the benefit of the secular state; that religion and faith play a crucial role in the character of individuals and can only be either ignored or suppressed to our collective and individual detriment

* Bob Jonkman
co chair
Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter
Bob has been advocating for electoral reform since the 2007 Ontario referendum on Proportional Representation. Bob would like to see a voting system based on Proportional Representation at all levels of government. In today’s panel discussion Bob will focus on how Proportional Representation isn’t only for political parties, but also for ethnic, religious and gender diversity

* Muhammad Afzal Mirza
Missionary, Representing Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Canada
speaker and learned scholar of world religions. Takes keen interest in youth welfare. Regularly hosts a live phone-in radio program explaining contemporary Islamic issues. Graduated from the Ahmadiyya Islamic University in 1976. Worked as an Islamic Missionary in various cities in Pakistan, USA and now in Canada. Former Vice President of the Institute of Islamic Studies in Toronto. Presented at numerous interfaith forums throughout Canada

3:00 pm
WLU Diversity Team presentations
The Diversity and Equity Office at Wilfrid Laurier University will begin by providing an overview of the e(RACE)r Summit held on March 21, 2016. This will be followed by a dialogue session based on key themes discussed during the Summit:
1) Racism and (systemic) spaces
2) Root Causes
3)Limitations to anti-racism work
The presentation will end with some 3 success stories that will demonstrate that we can be the change we seek
We have a PowerPoint Presentation so if we can have a projector ready to use that would be great!

3:30 pm
Brenda Halloran
speaking to a group of students about politics, their responsibilities, answer questions etc

4:00 pm
Hate Crimes Prevention Project
Coalition of Muslim Women
Sarah Shafiq
a unique grass roots project based in the Region of Waterloo, aiming to education Muslim women on how to recognize, respond and resolve a hate crime or incident. Some details on how the goal had to be modified from victim support after an incident to educating the importance of reporting the incident to police and documenting it

4:30 pm
Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter
Bob Jonkman – showing slides and expanding on Proportional Representation

5:00 pm
Colleen Sargeant James
speaking about our conscious / unconscious bias and how that feeds into racism and discrimination, providing some examples, with engagement from the audience

Colleen is the co-founder and CEO of Divonify, She works with businesses to provide holistic solutions that meet global diversity and inclusion benchmarks. Colleen is committed to helping empower businesses to establish diversity and inclusion best practices and creating a corporate culture of authenticity and inclusiveness. Colleen is a dedicated member of the community, she has over ten years experience working in public administration and the not-for-profit sector. She is an active member of Zonta International, a leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. Colleen acts as an advisor to the University of Waterloo Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity and a mentor to undergraduates at the University of Toronto. Colleen is a Past President of the Board of Directors for Focus for Ethnic women, a local non-profit organization that helps settle new Canadian women into the community. Colleen writes a regular blog that specializes in diversity and inclusion awareness and is a graduate of the University of Toronto

5:30 pm
Jane Richard
KW Right to Life is an educational pro-life non profit charity, one of hundreds of like organizations across Canada. We promote the value of human Life from conception to natural death. Sketch of talk content about 10 minutes followed by discussion from the floor: Following the preamble of the Canadian Bill of Rights, the protection of moral and spiritual values based on the supremacy of God – the dignity and worth of the human person and the position of the family – time honoured – changing to a secular approach where people become their own moral agent – legally allowing abortion and assisted suicide on demand. – the implications on individuals and Canadian society

6:30 pm

* Marhee Clifton
is a graduate of the WLU bachelor of music program and a teacher in the Waterloo Region District School Board. She has been performing in choirs (notably the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and the Grand Philharmonic Choir and Chamber Choir ) and as a soloist for more than 20 years. She also conducts choirs for children and adults, in the public school system, in connection with the Kodaly music festival, and for her church. Marhee is currently the Stake Music Chair and choir director for the Kitchener Ontario Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Marhee will be joined by Karen McLeod, also a member of the Grand Philharmonic Choir who has performed in various venues as a soloist and ensemble member

* Mark Evans and the band

* 2yLite Tha Titan is a Palestinian-Canadian rapper and producer who stands for social equality and freedom among all people. He has been making music for a total of 16 years and has 4 CDs released with performances in several cities in Canada. He will be performing some of his latest music from his soon to be released album “Evolve Or Dissolve”
p.s. if you are wondering, my name is pronounced Twilight The Titan

there are many hidden talents in each group and we would love to hear from them and invite them

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Tuesday, March 21 2017

“our home ON native land”
8:45 am
opening ceremony
Elder Jean Becker
dignitaries bringing greetings

theme for this year:
“our home ON native land”
* speakers
*multimedia presentations
* interactive discussions
* essays on related topics
* booths

* Inspector Mike Haffner
is the WRPS Executive Officer to the Chief and is there on behalf of the Chief – will give acknowledgement of our indigenous peoples land

* hate crime presentation
Kristin Little is an extremely valuable civilian member of our police service. She is an Open Source Analyst with the Hate Crime and Extremism Investigative Team. She monitors social media for 15 different police services in Ontario. She will be talking about hate crimes and the different types, hate incidents, why people commit hate crimes, types of extremism and the importance of reporting hate crimes

She Smiles
a poem by Madiha Syed

“our home ON native land”

* are indigenous people history and culture being taught in your school ? If so, by whom ?

* where are you getting your information from?

* what do you need to inform yourself ?

* what is your extent of awareness, your experience, your interaction with indigenous people and in what capacity ?

* Narsiesse
a First Nation writer, director, and filmmaker will open up about THE WINEMAKER film series and discuss some elements of the film’s origins that cover many of his passions, including First Nation mythos. Narsiesse will show phase one of THE WINEMAKER film series, then will share various artwork created by artists from around the world, who were inspired by THE WINEMAKER imagery and many of its First Nation themes and symbols. An interactive discussion and an opportunity to speak with Narsiesse and other members of THE WINEMAKER cast follows

* 2 videos
“Home To Me” & “Outsiders”
two lovely music videos done my First Nations, Metis and Inuit students in Canada
followed by group discussion (led by Marianna Worth & Tammy Webster)

* presentations by
Islamic School of Cambridge
& others

*Unity banner
. . . to include all students signing

* closing remarks

bring your own lunch
schools usually attend from the morning till approximately 2 pm when they need to return to their respective schools
however . . . students are welcome to stay and attend .. but at their own responsibility or accompanied by their own adults

afternoon session
2 – 7 pm
we continue with
more speakers & interactive dialogue

discussions around
discrimination against “other”
the emerging / surfacing biases and fear of unknowns

2 pm
the different labels attached to Muslim women
Fauzia Mazhar

2:15 pm
skypeing with
Wendy Goldsmith
a social worker and mother of three from London Ontario
As a social worker she has worked with many marginalized and traumatized individuals, families and communities and began her work in Palestine after Operation ‘Cast Lead’ and saw through photos and direct accounts of the horror and devastation inflicted by Israel on Gaza. Wendy is a member of the steering committee of Canada Boat to Gaza, a representative at Freedom Flotilla Coalition and on the Media team for the Women’s Boat to Gaza. Wendy recently returned from Barcelona, Spain, Ajaccio, Corsica and Messina, Sicily where she participated in the sailing of the Zaytouna

2:30 pm
The Political Meaning of Teaching Introductory Psychology to Indigenous Students
Dr. Richard Walsh
a retired professor of psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University, where he specialized in community psychology and in the history, philosophy, and ethics of psychology. He is the lead author of the 2014 book, A Critical History and Philosophy of Psychology, published by Cambridge University Press. In 1999 he received Laurier’s outstanding teaching award.
Richard is an active member of a local faith community; he sings in its choir and in Inshallah, the local interfaith choir
Richard was the Green Party candidate for Waterloo in the 2015 federal election. He serves as critic for mental health in the Green Party of Canada Shadow Cabinet. He is also the critic for poverty reduction in the Green Party of Ontario Shadow Cabinet
Locally, he is a founding member of the Alliance Against Poverty

3 pm
Bridges to Belonging
Cameron Dearlove – executive director
& Carmen Sutherland – community relations
“Bridges to Belonging’s vision for “a Waterloo Region where everyone belongs- where we value meaningful relationships, honour choices and dreams, and celebrate the uniqueness of each person”. How do we get there? How does inclusion and belonging interact, and how are they different? How can you build bridges to belonging in your community?”

3:45 pm
Wasai Rahimi
current president of the Afghan Association of Waterloo Region
was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and for over 22 years has served with numerous non-profit organizations,
here in Canada and overseas and has been living in Kitchener for the past 14 years
~ he is serving at the Safe and Healthy Community Advisory Committee, at the City of Kitchener
~ he is representing Kitchener residence at the Safety-Kleen Public Liaison Committee
~ he is a Board member of Bridges to Belonging Waterloo Region
~ he is founder and Executive Director of iHelp International
~ ~ ~
B A -Kabul University
diploma – Conestoga College in Electrical Engineering Technology where he also studied Civil Engineering and Management

4 pm
The Laurier Friendship Dinners
brought forty Laurier students, fourteen Syrian newcomer families and 40 community members together for a series of celebratory, welcoming dinners in the fall of 2016. Come and listen to a group of students, Syrian newcomers and community members share what they learned about refugee realities and building cross cultural friendships through this initiative in which students and community members collaborated through family visits, menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking Syrian feasts and celebrating together

Syrian refugees – newcomers – integration
. . . the existing homelessness & poverty

the concerns of a community split between prioritizing:
* addressing the existing poverty and homelessness
being sensitive to fellow human suffering
* hospitable
* resentful of the funding allocated to accommodating and integrating refugees
contributions and benefits to the economy of bringing newcomers
and whatever more comes up in the discussions

5:00 pm
“Political Policies for Indigenous Peoples”
resolutions passed by the Green Party at last year’s Special General Meeting
Bob Jonkman

5:15 pm
The Disconnect
Dimitri Lascaris is a lawyer, activist and journalist. He is the former justice critic in the shadow cabinet of the Green Party of Canada. In 2012, he was named by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada, and in 2013, Canadian Business Magazine named him one of the 50 most influential persons in Canadian business. He is currently a board member and correspondent of The Real News Network, based in Baltimore, Maryland
Dimitri will discuss the disconnect between Canadian public opinion and the Canadian government’s unqualified support for the government of Israel.
The International Court of Justice has held unanimously that Israel’s settlements constitute a grave breach of international law. Virtually the entire international community, including Canada’s government, agrees with this assessment. Yet the Canadian government continues to support Israel lavishly. A new poll leaves no doubt that Canadians do not agree with its government’s approach to Israel. Why does this disconnect exist?

6:00 pm
Mino Ode Kwewak N’gamowak
(Good Hearted Women Singers)

Mino Ode Kwewak N’gamowak (Good Hearted Women Singers) are an Indigenous and non-Indigenous women’s drum circle following the teachings of Community Elder Jean Becker and led by Songkeeper, Kelly Laurila. Our outreach and singing in public has much to do with building positive relations with Settler peoples. Although Canada is in a process of reconciliation, colonization and assimilation policies still permeate the lives of many Indigenous peoples today. In addition the water, mother earth and our environment need everyone’s help. We believe that building relationships with one another can help us understand one another and work towards the good of all peoples

All My Relations
Kelly Laurila

Songs our drum circle will sing:
Nibe – We ask for respect, gratitude and love for the water. respect you, we thank you, we love you
(Song created by Anishinabe woman, Josephine Mandamim)
Humma (Ulali. A lullabye to comfort in difficult times)
Friendship (Mohawk Friendship song. We extend our welcome and friendship to all of you)
Seven Grandfathers (love, respect, truth, honesty, humility, courage, wisdom). For reconciliation.

Kip Carpenter
~ I am from Ontario and grew up along the mazina’iga-ziibi/Missinihe-ziibi (credit river) and the springs of the Naadaw-zaaga-ziibi (nottawasaga river). As far as I know my ancestors are of Irish and English decent. I have relatives from Pimicikamak Cree Nation, known as Cross Lake, and other connections to the original people of Turtle Island. My given name is Kip Matthew Carpenter ~
“The first time he met Mino Ode Kwewak N’gamowak it was a true honour to offer a poetic blessing to these Good Hearted Women. Having been born on Turtle Island it is deeply humbling for him to be able to express support in anyway possible for the international day to end racism. Much of his time has been spent in what is now known as Ontario and if there is ever a chance such as this to express and pray for more progress or healing, it is with deep gratitude he offers much more than his words. He will and does listen. He hopes semaa will keep him strong as he offers this same blessing again to all today. Acknowledging this land was taken in broken treaties, his support to the best of his ability is freely offered, he currently lives in Guelph and his given name is Kip Carpenter”
G’chi miigewetch, Kip

6:00 pm
and the visual artists extravaganza …

Brenda Lewis
is a professional musician – Jazz Soul & Roots vocalist
publicist and human rights advocate
longtime Guelph resident she was most recently featured in The Jazz Room’s celebrated concert series in Uptown Waterloo
and currently performs with some of Canada’s finest musicians, including Margaret Stowe, Tony Quarrington, Jeff Bird, John Zadro and Gayle Ackroyd in this region, Toronto and across Ontario in acclaimed venues and festivals
Her CDs have been played on CBC, BBC and Jazz.FM and her new jazz release “Far & Near” (her third) is quickly garnering critical praise

Rhythms in Steel
“Rhythms in Steel” have been playing for about 3 years as a six piece acoustic Steelband in Waterloo Region. Band members include
Lisbeth Haddad on the tenor pan and vocalist
Murchison Callender on the tenor pan
Wendell Claxton on double seconds
Carol Taylor on the guitar pan
Karen Asumang and Chloe Callender on percussion
The band’s repertoire has a Caribbean flavour of reggae, soca, calypso and folk songs of the Caribbean
They perform at Parties, Churches, Retirement homes, Schools, Community Festivals and Fundraising Events for Charities

Dance Performance
by students from the African UBUNTU kids club

Acoustic Steel
is a six member acoustic steel band. The musicians are
Carol Taylor on first pan (melody)
Cheryl Dietrich on double seconds (harmony)
Rob Hartung on cello (bass)
Sam Ogilvie on electric bass
Dick Smith and Kerren Asumang on djembe
The band started playing together seven years ago and play a diverse selection of songs suited to the unique sound of the Steel drum and rhythms of the Caribbean. Events at which the band has been invited to play include
Community Festivals, Charitable Fundraising Events, Weddings, private parties and Corporate functions

Brenda Hodge
Sylver Dragon
* demo on how to do a memory bracelet . . . they are fun and fairly quick
* poem

Canoes Eye View
Mark Evens has been one of the loyal participants
will be performing as a three piece this year

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Wednesday, March 21 2018

mark your calendars … and check in with us for further details as the schedule of the day develops

we welcome:

* presenters – speakers, panels, artists (for the Peace Concert)

* documentaries followed by discussion

* display booths – for profit, non profit, individuals, ethnic organizations, artists …

* attendees

please contact me at your earliest convenience … we already have some amazing surprises this year!

Gehan D. Sabry
Editor / Publisher
Cross Cultures magazine (since 1991)
POB 20002 Kitchener ON N2P 2B4
(519) 893-4259

r o u n d t a b l e interactive discussion series

Cross Cultures magazine continues to promote

mutual respect

let’s enjoy a cooked meal and discuss different topics in this

r o u n d t a b l e interactive discussion / dialogue series

~ the venue will be at a south of Kitchener restaurant – a private room
(register to find out location and cost)

if you wish to join us please pre-register:
– as we need to know the numbers IN ADVANCE

meal consists of:
* soup or salad
* hot entree ~ dietary requirements available
* dessert
* coffee

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  * * *

Monday December 19 2011

It’s Christmas . . . not holiday !!

Let’s mutually respect what is sacred for each of us, and recognize political correctness – applied thoughtlessly – as the divisive, very ill-conceived process that it is

At the same time politics should have no place in one’s personal life
(case in point: what just happened in Gatineau, Quebec)

Tuesday January 24 2012

Secular vs Civil Law

* what happens when religious beliefs collide with civil and / or human rights

* in Canada we are so fortunate to have the freedom to practice whatever faith, tradition, spirituality we choose … and from time to time we are faced with issues that need to be addressed . . . do we understand Sharia Law, can we distinguish between what is an Honour Killing and what is Domestic Violence?

* how much is culture and how much is religion?

* this is a struggle that is not unique to Islam

Tuesday October 13 2015

Niqab or no Niqab ?

the niqab is back in the spotlights after the federal court dismissed the government’s appeal regarding citizenship ceremonies ..

* the Canadian way ??
* the ongoing debate about the niqab being a religious requirement
* the legal perspective
* the Charter of Rights & Freedoms / Constitution
* the current government’s approach to minorities

Tuesday September 27 2016

Canadian Values . . .

* Canadian way ??
* Charter of Rights & Freedoms / Constitution
* our values in regards to FIRST NATIONS rights
* our values in regards to newcomers

* academic freedom
* the legal perspective
* the different levels of governments’ approach to our freedoms

Wednesday September 20 2017
starts @ 5:30 pm

victimhood   vs   female empowerment

victimhood jpg

* the existing situation as you see it ?
* identifying the obstacles ? are they systemic, cultural ??
* steps necessary to move forward ?
* identify, suggest, recommend plan of action ?

Genocide Denied, Genocide Repeated

Aris Babikian
Journalist and Human Rights Advocate
Aris is a journalist with Horizon Weekly and Nor Hai Horizon TV program. He appeared on numerous TV and radio talk shows (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio and TV, CFRB radio, Michael Coren radio and TV shows, CTV-TV, Rogers Cable, CFMT TV, CTS TV, etc..). A City of Toronto municipal elections candidate (councillor). International elections monitor representing the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for the 2003 parliamentary elections in Armenia. Human Rights Activist. Participated in the National (Canadian) Umbrella Organizations’ roundtable on the “UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance”. Consulted with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to develop Canada’s international human rights policies. Participated in consultation meetings with high-level federal officials regarding changes to the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship Act. Prepared briefs and testified at House of Commons Heritage Committee hearings related to multicultural, Canadian culture and heritage issues and the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC). Chairman, Political Affairs Committee, Canadian Ethnocultural Council. Served on media, immigration, census, redress and political action committees of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council
* Ontario Volunteer Service Award (25 years of service)
* The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal
* The Canadian Ethnocultural Council’s Citation for Outstanding Services
* Canada’s 125th Confederation Commemorative Medal
and he is fluent in English, Armenian, Greek, Arabic

Genocide Denied, Genocide Repeated
Ninety One Years after exterminating 1.5 million Armenians, Turkey still denies responsibility

Imagine a country that denies the Holocaust. Imagine that the same country insists that Jews were killed because they were disloyal to Germany and were also guilty of killing German soldiers during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Bizarre? Fiendish? Ridiculous statements which do not deserve a response? Yet something very similar has been asserted for the past 90 years by Turkey. Despite hundreds of books by genocide scholars, tons of documents in German, Austrian, British, French, American and Russian archives, eyewitness accounts, diplomatic reports and countless Western newspaper reports, the Turkish Government inexplicably denies that, in 1915, it committed a deliberate, government-organized genocide against its Armenian minority.

It should be noted that unlike Holocaust deniers, such as Ernst Zundle and Jim Keegstra, who constitute the lunatic fringe of society, historical revisionism in the case of the Armenian Genocide is being carried out by the Turkish government.

Pre-Genocide Conditions

The Armenian Genocide was the first state-sponsored and painstakingly planned Genocide of the 20th Century. The mass annihilation of the Armenians from their 3,000-year-old ancestral homeland during the First World War was the final act in a long history of repression and massacres by Ottoman Turkish Governments. In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan, after signing the Treaty of Berlin (1878), a peace treaty with the Great Powers (Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Austria-Hungary), promising to implement reforms to ensure the protection of Armenians, reneged on his promises and guarantees and the condition of Armenians in the six provinces of historical Armenia deteriorated even further. According to Article 61 of the treaty, the Sultan was obliged to implement reforms in the Eastern Provinces where most Armenians lived. However, Sultan Abdul Hamid (1876-1908), fearing the loss of further territory, delayed the implementation of the promised reforms, and instead between 1894-1896 unleashed unprecedented slaughters claiming 300,000 Armenian lives. In its Sep. 10, 1895 issue, one New York Times headline, among hundreds of reports that year on the massacre of Armenians, heralded, “Another Armenian Holocaust”, which showed that the massacres of Armenians in the earlier periods were but a precursor of what was to follow in 1915.

The July 1908 revolution by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), better known as “The Young Turks”, against the bloody rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid brought fresh hopes of civil and human rights reforms to the Greek, Armenian, Jewish, Kurdish and Assyrian minorities. However, the crushing military defeats (1909-1913) of the Ottoman Army in the Balkans and in North Africa, the migration of Balkan Turkic refugees to the Armenian provinces and the fear of the revival of the Armenian reform issue, aggravated the plight of the Armenians. In January 1913 a coup d’etat by nationalistic and extremist officers of the Young Turks sealed the fate of the Armenians. After the successful coup d’etat of the radical Young Turks, headed by the triumvirate of Ismail Enver, Jemal Pasha, and Mehmed Talaat, a new ideology of expanding the empire of Turkish-speaking people from Turkey to the Caucasus to Central Asia became the modus operandi of the new government in Constantinople (known today as Istanbul). The Turkish nationalists saw the Armenians as an obstacle to a Pan-Turkish Empire.

The Outbreak of the First World War

The outbreak of the First World War presented the perfect opportunity for the triumvirate to implement their “Final Solution” of “the Armenian problem” — to “cleanse” the region once and for all of Armenians to create the dream of a Turkish Empire.

The 1915 genocide was different from the previous Armenian massacres of 1894-1896 and 1909 in that it was carefully planned and organized. In July 1914, representatives of the Turkish Government attended the Eighth Annual Congress of the Dashnag Armenian party and attempted to persuade their leaders to instigate Russian Armenians to rise up against the tsar when the impending war broke out. The Dashnag leaders refused to involve the Russian Armenian people in such an adventure. They pledged that in case of war, they would ensure the loyalty of Ottoman Armenians, that they would enlist in the army to defend Turkey. At the time the area of historic Armenia was occupied by two empires–the Ottoman and the Russian.

The Dashnag’s kept their word. Twenty-four hours after a secret military and political treaty was signed by Turkey and Germany (August 2, 1914) and general mobilization was declared, 250.000 Ottoman Armenians, between the ages of 20 to 45 enlisted in the Turkish army. On the Russian side, Armenians were conscripted as well in the tsar’s army. In 1914, The Turkish government declared war on Russia by attacking the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. On the Eastern Front, Enver launched an attack on Russian forces and occupied Kars. In early 1915, the Russian Army, with the help of Russian Armenian volunteers, counterattacked and inflicted a crushing blow to Enver in Sarikmish. Enver’s humiliating defeat was the death knell for the Ottoman Armenians.

Genocide in Motion

After the Sarikmish disaster, using the pretext of Armenians’ treachery, sabotage and collaboration with the Russian army, the ruling triumvirate issued a decree to disarm Armenian conscripts in the Ottoman army and herd them into labour battalions. The 250,000 disarmed Armenian soldiers therefore became the first victims of the genocide, months before the deportations formally began. In April, just before the deportation of all Armenians, the Armenian civil, religious, intellectual and professional leaders began their death march. Over 600 Armenian leaders in Constantinople and 2,345 in the provinces were summoned, arrested and executed on the night of April 23-24, 1915.

After the Armenian elite was wiped out and the Armenian population left defenceless and leaderless to organise serious resistance, the third stage of the Genocide was set in motion. Armenians were ordered to leave their cities, villages and towns on the pretext of “military necessity.” They were not allowed to take essential goods or provisions of survival. Once the women, children and elderly were marched out of populated areas, the “Special Organization”,(known as the Teshkilati Mahsusa) or “death squads”, consisting of violent criminals released just for this duty, and irregular troops, even gendarmes who were supposed to protect the deportees, attacked, raped, starved and killed the defenceless caravans. Survivors were marched to the Syrian Dessert and were either drowned in the Euphrates River or burned alive in a series of underground caves— primitive gas chambers—near Deir el-Zor, in Syria. To cover their heinous crime from the very beginning, the Young Turks suspended the Ottoman parliament, instituted martial law, and issued, on May 27, 1915, the Temporary Law of Deportation. Furthermore, to confiscate the property and goods of the deported Armenians, the Young Turks, on September 27, 1915 issued the Law of Abandoned Goods.

Genocidal Intent

It is abundantly clear today, as it was even in 1915, that what happened to the Armenians was not the result of “civil strife”, “rebellion” or “military necessity” as successive Turkish governments continue to claim in shameful defence. The Armenian Genocide was a state-sponsored and state-sanctioned plan. At a 1910 conference in Salonika, Young Turk leader Talaat stated, “there can be no question of equality [for minorities] until we have concluded our task of Ottomanizing the empire.” Three months later the Young Turk leadership approved Talaat’s plan in a secret meeting. It is noteworthy that as early as January 11, 1915, months before the formal deportations and killings, the New York Times, in a bold headline on page two, published a blatant warning by Talaat, “Says Turks Advise Christians to Flee.” It is also not surprising to find that, two days later, on page three of the New York Times for January 13, 1915, we find another ominous warning by Turkey’s leader, “Talaat Declares There is Only Room for Turks in Turkey.” The full portent of this warning was yet to be fully understood. It was not until the spring and summer of 1915 that its full meaning became clear to all. If this does not express intent, what, pray tell, does?

The creation of the Special Organization on August 5, 1914 — killing units comprised of released violent criminals, brigands and Turkish refugees from the Balkans — is further proof of the Young Turks’ intent. Dissolving the Parliament at the start of the WW1 was another indication of the Young Turks intent to have a free hand to implement their plan. German, Austrian and American diplomats, missionaries and eyewitness reports, dispatches and other accounts further corroborate the premeditated intention at race extermination. In this regard German military and diplomatic sources are especially important. Germany was a military and political ally of Turkey and each unit in the Ottoman Army had a German military advisor. No one would question German documents or accuse Germany of war propaganda against Turkey, as the Turks do British, French, Russian and American documents.

The disingenuous Turkish argument that Ottoman Turkey had no intention or ability to carry a plan of exterminating the Armenians in a time of war when the Turkish Army was preoccupied with fighting on many fronts, has been refuted by impartial historians, even by some Turkish officials and scholars.

General Vehib Pasha, Commander of the Turkish Third Army, in his deposition read during the March 29, 1919 session of the Turkish Government court martial stated

“The massacre and destruction of the Armenians and the plunder and pillage of their goods were the results of decisions reached by Ittihad (the ruling Young Turks party) Central Committee . . . the atrocities were carried out under a program that was determined upon and involved a definite case of premeditation”

Senator Resit Akif Pasha, president of the post-war state council, declared in November 1918, during the Ottoman Parliament debate on the Armenian massacres:“ While humbly occupying my post of President of State Council, to my surprise, I came across a strange [combination] of official orders. One of them, was issued by the notorious Interior Ministry, the order for deportation. The other, however was an ominous secret circular issued by Ittihad’s (Young Turks) Central Committee. It directed the provincial party units to proceed with the execution of the accursed plan. Thereupon the brigands went into action and atrocious massacres were the result”

Mustafa Arif, Interior Minister of Turkey (1918-1919), in a Turkish newspaper interview in December 1918, stated:

“Unfortunately, our wartime leaders, imbued with a spirit of brigandage, carried out the law of deportation in a manner that could surpass the proclivities of the most bloodthirsty bandits. They decided to exterminate the Armenians, and they did exterminate them. This decision was taken by the Central Committee of the Young Turks and was implemented by the government”

Righteous Turks

Not all Turks were willing participants in the Genocide. Many righteous Turks and men of integrity saved their Armenian neighbours and friends from slaughter. Some Turkish officials, the governors of Marash and Aleppo for example, refused to carry out the central government’s orders to massacre the Armenians. For their disobedience, these governors and officials were dismissed from their posts and punished, others were even killed. The Armenian Genocide was not a religious conflict between Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks, even though religion was one of the tools used by the Young Turks to excite and galvanize the masses toward exterminating Armenians. The conflict, if it can be called that, was brought about because of the extremely nationalistic leaders’ ambitions of creating a new and expansionist Pan-Turkic Order.

If it were not for the Muslim Arabs in the Syrian Peninsula many Armenians would not have survived. In 1917 the Sharif of Mecca, Sharif Ali al Hussayn, issued a decree for the protection of Armenians. In his decree he stated:

“What is requested of you is to protect and to take good care of everyone from the Jacobite Armenian community living in your territories and frontiers and among your tribes; to help them in all of their affairs and defend them as you would defend yourselves, your properties and children, and provide everything they might need whether they are settled or moving from place to place, because they are the Protected People of the Muslims”

The “Malta Tribunals” and the Turkish Military Tribunal

On many occasions the Turkish government uses the so-called “Malta Tribunals”, to justify its assertion that the Allies did not find conclusive evidence to try Young Turk leaders for war crimes against the Armenians and thus released them. In fact, however, there were no “Malta Tribunals”. The British camp and affiliated residences in Malta were strictly detention centres, where the Turkish suspects were held for future prosecution on charges of crimes perpetrated against the Armenians. However, largely because of political expediency, the envisaged international trials never materialized. The victorious Allies, lapsing into dissension and mutual rivalries, chose instead to strike separate deals with the ascendant Ataturk. One such deal concerned the recovery of British subjects held hostage by Turkey who were to be released in exchange for the liberation of all Malta detainees. Commenting on this deal for the exchange, which he later deplored as “a great mistake”, British Foreign Affairs Minister Lord Curzon wrote: “The less we say about these people [the Turks detained at Malta] the better…I had to explain why we released the Turkish deportees from Malta skating over thin ice as quickly as I could. There would have been a row I think . . . the staunch belief among members [of Parliament is] that one British prisoner is worth a shipload of Turks, and so the exchange was excused.” It is, therefore, misleading to state that Turkish leaders were released because the British did not find evidence to convict them.

More importantly, and directly related to the issue of criminal intent, the Turkish Military Tribunal and courts martial (Nov 1918 – May 1919) formed by postwar Ottoman authorities to try the Ittihadist (Young Turk) leaders and cabinet ministers for war related crimes did in fact yield invaluable evidence, and enough proof, if any were needed, that led to the indictment of the Young Turk leadership. The key charge of premeditated mass murder organized by the Young Turks was fully substantiated. The tribunal cited “the massacres against the Armenians” in various parts of the Ottoman Empire. It found that these massacres were “organized and executed” by “the Ittihadist (Young Turk) leaders”, a fact which was “investigated and ascertained” by the tribunal. Among those convicted and sentenced to death were Interior Minister, later Grand Vizier, Talaat, and the two top military leaders, War Minister Enver Pasha, and Minister of the Navy and Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman Fourth army, Jemal Pasha.

In its final verdict, published in the Official Gazette of the Ottoman Empire (Takvim-i-Vekayi), May 26, 1919, the tribunal concluded that “Members and leaders of the Ittihad ve Tereakki (Young Turks) Party in Istanbul and in the provinces were deeply involved in the activities of the “Teshkilat Mahsusa” (Special Organization). They used the Special Organization to carry out massacres, for setting buildings and corpses on fire, for destruction of villages, and dishonouring and torturing woman.

“. . . as is evident from the details of its correspondence, the Committee [Young Turks] had evolved and approved secret plans and special goals and had recourse to the imposition of tyrannical measures of very kind in order to have its programs accepted without exception . . . it is evident that the Committee pre-planned and organized all the crimes which were committed. So, the Committee ruled against Ottoman subject—individuals, communities and peoples without exception, in order to attain its goals . . .”

World Reaction

At the time of the Genocide, newspapers around the world were full of reports detailing what was happening to Armenians, among them the prestigious New York Times, which published more than 200 articles on the genocide between 1915 and 1917 alone. Canadian newspapers were no different. Within two days of the start of the genocide, on April 26, 1915, the Toronto Daily Star reported: “Terrible Tales of Armenian Slaughter—Ten Villages Wiped Out in Massacres by Mohamedans—Mothers Threw Their Babes in Rivers to Save Them From Death by Hunger.” The Nov. 29, 1915 issue of the Ottawa Journal headline reads “50,000 Armenians massacred by Turks—Saturnalia of Slaughter by Refined Methods as Young Turks Set Out to Wipe Armenian Race off the World.” “Threw 10,000 People into Sea to Perish—Turks Have Practically Wiped Out the Entire People of Armenia”, the October 7, 1915 issue of the Toronto Daily Star states. The Toronto Globe in its October 23, 1915 issue declared “Million Armenians Wiped out by Turkey—Only 200,000 Armenians Inhabitants of Turkey Now Remain in Country”. In addition to newspaper reports, there were thousands of American, German, Austrian, Danish, Italian, Norwegian, French, and British eyewitnesses, and countless documented reports by diplomats, military officers and missionaries.

Perhaps even more important in setting a future precedent for international law was the May 24, 1915 joint declaration by Great Britain, France and Russia in their public warning to Turkish leaders, which was also published on page one of the New York Times on May 24, 1915, “In view of those new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied governments announce publicly to the Sublime-Port that they will hold personally responsible [for] these crimes all members of the Ottoman Government and those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres”. The Armenian case was later cited during the Nuremberg trials 1945-46 as the basis for the emergence of the Nuremberg Law on Crimes Against Humanity by Sir Hartley Shawcross, the British Chief Prosecutor. It was also cited in the 1948 U N War Crimes Commission Report. In its preface to the Report it stated, “. . . the warning given to the Turkish Government on this occasion by the Governments of the Triple Entente dealt precisely with one of the types of acts which the modern term ‘crimes against humanity’ is intended to cover, namely, inhumane acts committed by a government against its own subjects”

At the end of the war and as a condition of its surrender, Turkey accepted its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide when it signed the Peace Treaty with Armenia and the Allied Powers on August 10, 1920. Articles 88, 89,141, 144, were included in the Treaty of Sevres to remedy the injustice done to the Armenian people as a result of the Turkish Government’s campaign of extermination and the Turkish Government’s obligations to redress the Armenian people’s grievances.

The Great Betrayal

During the next two years two key developments in the Middle East and the Caucasus were major factors in the Allies’ betrayal of the Armenian issue and the Armenian people’s quest for justice.

The discovery of oil (the Great Came) in the Middle East and in the Caspian Sea, and the success of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia emboldened Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, to renegotiate the Treaty of Sevres. The disunited and squabbling Allies, who were fighting among themselves to get access to the oil fields and to stop the spread of communism, yielded to Ataturk’s demands and signed the Lausanne Treaty in July 1923. According to the treaty the Armenian issue was scrapped and the Treaty of Sevres’ commitments to the Armenian people and the creation of an Armenian homeland were excluded from the Lausanne Treaty.


Since then, for the past 85 years, successive Turkish governments have denied the genocide. The Turkish government spends millions of dollars on public relations firms, hiring top-heavy international PR firms to distort the truth about the Armenian Genocide. It also organizes junkets—in the style of the old Soviet Union—for politicians and journalists to promote its distorted version of history. Furthermore, it establishes university chairs to influence scholars to deny the Genocide. The Turkish government in its propaganda campaign uses a battery of digressions, excuses, half-truths, and obfuscations in its arsenal of denial. Let’s examine some of these claims and outline the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide by using mainly Turkish, Austrian and German sources to expose the distortions of the Turkish government. As Turkey’s allies during WWI, Austria and Germany could hardly be accused of harbouring an anti-Turkish attitude.

The cornerstone of the Turkish government’s policy of denial is that whatever happened during WWI it was inter-communal violence and the result of Armenian rebellion. It was communal infighting if an organized attack by an empire’s army on an unarmed minority can be described as such. How could an unarmed Armenian population of mainly women, children and the elderly even contemplate an armed struggle against a majority population backed by a mighty empire, an ally of the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires? The consensus among German and Austrian officials who were in Turkey at the time was that there was no rebellion by the Armenian population. These documents survive and are available for all to see.

In a 72 page report to Berlin (September 18, 1916), German Ambassador Count Wolff Metternich wrote:

“There was neither a concerted general uprising nor was there a fully valid proof that such a synchronized uprising was planned or organized”

Describing the futile and spotty Armenian resistance, Dr. Max Erwin Scheubner-Richter (German vice-consul in Erzerum, in eastern Turkey), wrote in a dispatch dated December 6, 1916: “They [the Turkish leaders] were planning on fabricating, for the benefit of Allied Powers, an alleged revolution stirred up by the Dashnak [Armenian] party. They also planed to inflate the importance of isolated incidents and acts of self-defense by the Armenians and use it as an excuse to deport the targeted population which then would be massacred by escorting gendarmes and assorted gangs”

Vice-Marshall Joseph Pomiankowski, Austro-Hungary’s military plenipotentiary, who during the war was attached to Ottoman general headquarters, described the self-defense of the Armenians as follows: “The Van uprising certainly was an act of desperation. The local Armenians realized that the general butchery against the Armenians had started and that they would be the next victims”. Collapse of the Ottoman Empire (1928).

Chief among Turkish government’s distortions is the accusation that Armenians sided with the enemy–tsarist Russia. Hans Wangenheim, German Ambassador to Turkey stated: “It is obvious that the banishment of Armenians is due not solely to military considerations. Talaat Bey, the Minister of the Interior, has quite frankly said that the Turkish Government intended to make use of the World War and Deal thoroughly with its internal enemies. Turkey’s goal was to “resolve its Armenian Question by the destruction of the Armenian race”

In an Orwellian touch, Turkey calls the deportation of Armenians to the deserts of Syria as “relocation . . . for their protection, from dangerous areas.” perhaps Jews were also ‘relocated’ from Danzig to Dachau for their protection. An empire notorious for mistreating its minorities (Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Arabs, Jews, and Assyrians . . .) apparently decided to ‘protect’ Armenians and send women and children, without food and on foot, to the searing desert of Syria, to die of hunger and exposure.

If Turkish Government’s concern was to move Armenians from the war front, why were countless Armenians relocated from the hinterland, thousands of miles away from the war front?

The testimony of Ali Fuad Erden, the chief of staff of Jemal Pasha, the commander-in-chief of the Fourth Ottoman Army, debunked Turkey’s lame excuse when he wrote in his memoirs:

“There was neither preparation nor organization to shelter the hundreds of thousands of the deportees”

Wolfdieter Bihl, in his 1975 book, The Caucasus Policy of the Central Powers (Part I), unequivocally proves that the Turkish government’s relocation campaign was a ruse. He wrote: “. . . [The authorities] did not bother to deport the Armenians; rather, massacres were perpetrated on the spot. In a singular bloodlust, torture and slaughter were resorted to . . . these measures were not limited to the theatres of war but were extended to the Black Sea coast, Cilicia and Western Anatolia”

To confuse people and to muddy the issue, Turkey and its apologists say that more Turks died during WWI than Armenians. The two losses are not interrelated. Armenians had nothing to do with Turkish deaths. Turks had everything to do with Armenian deaths. The majority of Turkish losses was the direct result of armed warfare, which pitted one group of armed combatants against another. The Armenian losses were the result of a government-sponsored plan of extermination of an unarmed population. Even Turkey’s friends, such as Michael M. Gunter, rejects such comparisons: Mr. Gunter wrote:

“That even more Turks [than Armenians] also died during World War I is both true, but largely irrelevant to the argument here because most of the many Turkish deaths resulted from hostilities against the Allies, not the Armenians”

Judgment of Experts, historians et al

Hundreds of historians, scholars, Holocaust and genocide experts, and statesmen have studied the relevant facts related to the events of 1915-1917 and have concluded that the massacre of the Armenians constituted genocide. Indeed, every single independent panel of experts convened to review the facts of these events has also so concluded, including the 1985 Report on Genocide by the United Nations Sub-Commission under Benjamin Whitaker, and more recently in February 4, 2003, by the International Center for Transitional Justice in its legal analysis and finding.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel

Jurist Raphael Lemkin, who drafted the U N Convention on Genocide and coined the word “Genocide” in 1948, on many occasions cited the attempt to annihilate the Armenians as a clear case of genocide as defined by the U N Convention on Genocide. In his autobiography, Professor Lemkin wrote:

“I identified myself more and more with the suffering of the victim, whose numbers grew, as I continued my study of history. I understand that the function of memory is not only to register past events, but to stimulate human conscience. Soon contemporary examples of genocide followed, such as the slaughter of the Armenians in 1915”

Elsewhere in the book he says: “. . . A bold plan was formulated in my mind. This consisted [of] obtaining the ratification by Turkey [of the proposed UN Convention on Genocide. Ed] among the first twenty founding nations. This would be an atonement for [the] genocide of the Armenians”

Non-Armenian and non-partisan historians have verified the reality of the Armenian Genocide. The International Association of Genocide Scholars, an eminent body of scholars who study Genocide, at its 1997 convention, adopted a resolution unanimously reaffirming that, “The mass murder of over a million Armenians in Turkey in 1915 is a case of genocide which conforms to the statutes of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. It further condemns the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government and its official and unofficial agents and supporters”

On April 23, 1999, more than 150 distinguished scholars and writers (among them Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney, Wloe Soyinka and Derek Walcott, in addition to Deborah E. Lipstadt, Norman Mailer, Helen Fine, Robert Melson, Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Harold Pinter, Roger Smith, Daniel Goldhagen, Susan Sontag, William Styron, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates, Alfred Kazin, Grace Paley, D. M Thomas,) published a declaration in the Washington Post stating: “ We denounce as morally and intellectually corrupt the Turkish Government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.” They went on to ask governments around the world “to refer to the 1915 annihilation of the Armenians as genocide”

On June 9, 2000, 126 Holocaust scholars (among them Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Professor Yehuda Bauer, Professor Israel Charny, Professor Irving L. Horowitz, Professor Steven Jacobs, Professor Steven Katz, Dr. Elizabeth Maxwell, Professor Saul Mendlowitz, Professor Jack Needle, Professor Samuel Totten) published a statement in The New York Times: “. . . affirming that the World War I Armenian Genocide is an incontestable historical fact and accordingly urge the governments of Western democracies to likewise recognize as such”


The Turkish government’s policy of denial reminds one of Orson Welles’ hall of mirrors in “Lady From Shanghai”, where a single image is reflected ad infinitum, without adding anything new. No credible historian gives credence to the Turkish government’s propaganda and insistence on the same revisionist views. The historical reality of the Armenian Genocide is well documented. It is not what the “Armenians say” but what international historians, statesmen of repute, and genocide experts have said repeatedly. The Canadian Senate (June 2002), the House of Commons (April 2004), and the two largest provinces in Canada (Ontario and Quebec) have already recognized the Armenian Genocide.

The Canadian Armenian community does not bear any animosity towards the Canadian Turkish community. On the contrary, we sympathize with the Turkish people. They have been misled for too many years by their own government. We are confident that once the Turkish government halts its campaign of falsification of history and focuses on the genocide issue without hysteria and paranoia, the Turkish people will be able to acknowledge the misdeeds of their predecessors and extend a hand of friendship to the Armenian people.

In recent years many righteous Turks—particularly scholars and journalists—have spoken against their government’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.

In an interview with France’s L’Express (November 11, 2000), Halil Berktay, Professor of history at the University of Sabanci in Istanbul, said, “I believe that we must rid ourselves of the taboos that surround the events of 1915 . . . for decades we have been putting Turkish opinion to sleep with the same lullabies. Meanwhile, there are a ton of documents proving the sad reality: diplomatic reports and their personal notes, testimonies that went West from intermediaries from Christian schools established in the Ottoman Empire, photos . . . I even cried upon discovering certain clichés”. In a response to a question if the taboo of the Armenian question will fall in Turkey, Professor Berktay stated, “We will get there when we live in a free society. It is only under these conditions that we would be able to face the reality of the horrors of 1915”

Significantly, over 12,000 Turks, members of the German-Turkish Association Opposed to Genocide, signed a petition (December 2000) stating: “what we have learned at school [in Turkey] is a forgery of history”. They asked the Turkish Government to repent for the crime of Genocide which “we feel morally obliged to end their [Armenians] disillusions and agony”. Furthermore, the association asked for “international condemnation of the crimes committed against the Armenians, Assyrians and Pontian-Greeks”

The intention of reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide is to address the injustice that took place 90 years ago and to play a positive role in the healing process for survivors and their descendants. The reaffirmation by Turkey and its people is about joining the international community and sending a message to despotic regimes that the civilized world will not tolerate crimes against humanity, no matter when or where they happened. The reaffirmation is about condemning any attempt to rewrite history, and finally, it’s about learning from the mistakes of the past to prevent future genocides. The reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide is a moral and ethical imperative. We owe it not only to the victims and survivors of the Genocide but to all mankind.

Because of the Turkish Government’s refusal to face its dark past, the process of healing— so essential to international peace and harmony—has not even begun for Armenians. As genocide scholars have shown, the last act of genocide is denial of the crime, for it seeks “to rehabilitate the perpetrators and demonize the victims”

The denial of the Armenian Genocide is also an encouragement for the repetition of genocide, as it eventually did happen in the Ukraine, Germany, Cambodia and Rwanda. Yesterday Armenians, who tomorrow?

We should not allow Hitler’s contemptuous remark, “who remembers nowadays the Armenians?” to haunt us forever. What people of good will choose to forget, tyrants seldom do

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Andrew Telegdi photo by Jean-Marc Carisse 2005 056

HON Andrew Telegdi MP

Regarding The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Vol 15 # 1 2006

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms both defines and reflects the Canadian social, political and judicial reality and as such is what distinguishes us from the other nations in the world. It was formed as recognition of past injustices and serves as a guiding light for a better future. Finally, it provides a moral and legal basis to guide our democratic and legislative processes.

To quote from Prime Minister Chretien:

“There is one thing key in the life of a nation, it is to make sure the rights of the citizen are protected by the court in our land and not subject to the capricious elected”. KW Record May 18, 2000

Paul Martin echoed this sentiment when he said:

“I fundamentally believe that governments cannot discriminate on a question of rights”. Globe & Mail April 29, 2003

Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the Queen signed The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as part of the Constitution Act on April 17, 1982. It is ironic that twenty years after that historic event, as indicated in a Leger Marketing Poll, less than half of Canadians could mention even one of the human right and civil liberties that the Charter protects. This situation needs to be redressed.

I believe that at this time, we must put in place national institutions that will ensure that Canadians are educated regarding how the Charter protects their human rights and civil liberties, that ensure that the word and spirit of the Charter is a central guiding principle in drafting future legislation and that celebrate our rights and freedoms while we commemorate and atone for past injustices to specific ethnic or cultural groups that may want restitution. To these ends I propose:

The establishment of April 17th as a National Day of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to acknowledge and commemorate the acts of unjust discrimination perpetrated upon various Canadian ethnics, cultural and religious minorities, throughout our history by the enactment and enforcement of unjust citizenship, immigration and other policies


The establishment of a Hall of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with a view to : defining why the Charter was put in place, promoting an understanding among Canadians as to how the Charter operates to ensure that all members of our society have equal status and equal rights before the law and underlining the importance of the Charter in securing the civil liberties of all Canadians

Historical Backgrounder

The Aboriginal peoples were the first to populate Canada and thousands of years later Europeans from France and later the British Isles arrived.

Since Confederation, Canada has adapted its immigration policies to meet the changing needs of the nation. Canada’s early immigration policies reflected the concepts of racist stereotyping and racial superiority present in Canadian society at that time. Laws were enacted in order to maintain the Caucasian and Christian demographic of the country.

Prime examples of these discriminatory immigration policies -restricted through legislation – of certain ethnic groups, based on race, ethnic origin, religion etc are the Asian Exclusion Act – the infamous Chinese head tax of 1885 and the continuous-journey prohibition of 1906, meant to keep Indian nationals from entering the country. This dark period in our immigration history was marked by some shameful events. One occurred in 1914 when 376 East Indian immigrants were forcefully confined for two months aboard the liner the Komagata Maru as it lay off Vancouver harbour. The BC Supreme Court eventually upheld a federal exclusion order and the boat, escorted by a Canadian war ship, and was forced to sail back to Calcutta where arrival 29 passengers were shot and 20 eventually died.

Another event occurred during the Second World War when Canada actively restricted the entry of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and the informal, unspoken Canadian policy was “. . . none is too many”. In 1939, 907 Jewish refugees aboard the Liner St. Louis were denied entry. The boat was forced to return to Europe, where at least 240 of the passengers died in Nazi concentration camps.

The internment of thousands of innocent and loyal ethnic Japanese, German, Italian, Austro-Hungarians and Ukrainian Canadians during the World Wars, the forceful repatriation of thousands of Canadians of Japanese ancestry, half of them Canadian born, to a war devastated Japan were other significant manifestations of racism and discrimination by our government

The government directed immigration department resources to recruiting people from the countries of western and northern Europe and the USA.

Canadian immigration regulations were liberalized in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s Canada accepted tens of thousands of Italians, Czechs, Hungarians, and other previously non-preferred European nationalities and people from Indo-China and immigrants and refugees from Third World countries. At that time the Immigration Act was amended cease discrimination on the basis of race or religion.

The increase in the ethnic mix of our nation and the growth of communication technology in the electronic news and entertainment media meant Canadians were more exposed to people of different racial, religious and cultural origins. This contact and the education it provided contributed to Canadian society entering a new era of inclusiveness. The government responded to these changes in social attitudes with the passing of a new Immigration Act in 1968. For the first time in our history a totally non-discriminatory, non-racist immigration policy with special concerns for family re-unification and refugees was enshrined in Canadian law.

Since 1990 Canada has, on a per capita basis, accepted more refugees than any country in the world. We have the highest acceptance rate of claimants as well, with 20,000 to 25,000 refugees receiving landed status each year. We are also one of only three nations that operate major resettlement programs. We also accept twice as many immigrants annually as any other country and offer financial support to thousands of immigrants to assist in their establishment in our society.

Our immigration policy will continue to strike a balance between our belief in justice and helping those in need, and our desire to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to maintain our way of life. The Canadian public supports a controlled, limited and voluntary immigration. We are concerned that those upon whom we bestow citizenship will be productive contributors to our nation. Canadians are a people of great racial, religious and ethnic diversity. We have come from all parts of the world. The cultural mosaic that has become our nation is and will continue to be our greatest strength. While the world continues to be a place filled with expressions of racial hatred and international conflict, we in Canada have learned to live in peace and harmony with each other and our neighbours. This may well be our proudest accomplishment. The establishment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 reflects both reflect our values of fairness and tolerance and supports the tolerance that distinguished our society by ensuring that the law and the government treated every Canadian equally. The new Millennium offers us the opportunity to continue as a world leader, promoting and supporting humanitarian and democratic causes. It also presents Canadians with the challenge to finally rid our society of the last vestiges of racism. The establishment of both a National Day and a Hall of the Canadian Charter Rights and Freedoms would serve this purpose well


National Day of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter Day)

Citizenship and immigration policy in Canada, both before and after Confederation, is replete with acts of discrimination that have resulted at various times in the unjust disenfranchisement, incarceration, deportation, internment, crippling, lifelong psychological injury or loss of life of members of virtually every ethnic, racial and religious group in Canada.

To our credit, various provincial and federal governments in the past two or three decades have made an effort to redress the hardships these acts have inflicted on members of some of these groups.

The federal government has made redress to the Japanese Canadian community for the internments and loss of assets.

However, amends have not been made for the past injustices experienced by the members of many other groups. At this time both the Ukrainians and Chinese Canadians and their descendants who experienced injustice are demanding that they received special recognition and in some cases restitution, and this presents several problems for present government.

It brings up the thorny question: How do we acknowledge and make amends for past mistakes that have taken many forms, lasted for different durations, impacted on varying numbers of individuals in any particular group or were of greater or lesser severity in terms of personal or cultural suffering?

Another equally difficult question arises: To what extent are present day Canadians responsible, financially or otherwise, for acts such as the expulsion of the Acadians or the impact of the Durham Report that recommended the assimilation of French Canadians, which took place under jurisdictions that no longer exist or were perpetrated by Parliaments of Canada at a time that preceded the arrival of the ancestors of most present day Canadians?

In coming to a resolution to these questions, we must agree to base our actions on the following premises:

1. Recent governments did not pass the laws that caused this suffering

2. It is time that we, as a people, let go of our collective sense of guilt regarding acts for which very few – if any – of us living today are responsible

3. At the same time, we must never forget the injustices of the past, and therefore must ensure that it does not occur again

To this end we must be mindful to enact laws and establish institutions that serve to remind us of the dangers to democracy and to each and every one of us inherent in acts of prejudice and discrimination against those who are different.

We have an obligation as a just, fair-minded nation to acknowledge the impact of these acts on those affected and express our deepest, sincere regrets.

Those who forget the lessons of history are destined to repeat their mistakes

A National Day of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would be a time to heal old wounds, to remember and understand our errors of the past, to recognize the dangers inherent in fearing rather than celebrating our differences and perhaps most importantly it would be a day to bolster our sense of unity as a people.

It would be a day when Canadians from different cultures could share their stories, recount the hardships they experienced in the old country and the battles they have fought to make Canada their home, thereby creating mutual understanding among us in order to dispel the myths and the lies that breed discrimination. This is particularly true since 9/11 and the fears it has instilled.

As members of a fair and just society, one that prides itself as a beacon of liberty and freedom in a world, it is incumbent upon us to remember the unjust, discriminatory laws that inflicted untold suffering and hardships on loyal, innocent Canadians.

We must pay particular attention to the injustices and racist policies perpetrated upon the Aboriginal Peoples – the First Nations, a situation that sadly continues to this day, not forgetting the abuses to native children in the Residential Schools.

On Remembrance Day, we commemorate the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers in wartime to preserve our freedom. We do so, in part, to understand who we are as a people, remember those who gave so much so we could have what we do today and this bolsters the value of Canadian citizenship.

On Canada Day, we celebrate who we are today.

A National Day for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – on April 17th -coinciding with the date of the establishment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – would be a special day that celebrates our history and where we came from, while remembering the sacrifices and injustices experienced by our ancestor in creating this great country.

Hall of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into being on April 17, 1982, as part of the Constitution Act of Canada. This year we are proud to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this monumental achievement of our democracy.

The Charter was motivated by Canada’s desire to protect its citizenry from the possibility of a future government creating unjust laws, laws that discriminated against citizens because of their ethnicity, race or religion. It enshrined in law the rights of Canadians, rights that protect each and every one of us from being the subject of racism and discrimination. It gave every Canadian equal status and equal rights in our legal system. The Charter acts to protect us from re-experiencing the suffering and hardships inflicted on Canadians who were different.

It is extremely important that we understand our history. Many people immigrated to Canada from countries where neither their society nor government offered them protection, legal or otherwise, from the will of despotic rulers. They need to know that this is not how things work in Canada and that it is the Charter that makes this essential and important difference in their lives as Canadians.

Canadians believe that the Supreme Court and not Parliament should have the final say when the Court declares a law unconstitutional on the grounds that it conflicts with the Charter. This power of the Supreme Court, as enshrined in law, is an essential safeguard of our civil liberties. It is imperative that all Canadians understand how the Charter works to accomplish this goal. A recent poll that found that more than half of Canadians are unable to name any of the rights they are guaranteed under the Charter underlines the need for a venue to promote and educate Canadians about their rights and freedoms.

A Hall of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would serve to inform and educate new and old Canadians as to how the Charter works in securing our freedom and way of life. It would serve to reinforce our national identity as a people of great diversity, a nation made up of representing all races, religions and ethnicity, which live together in peace and harmony. As a counterpart to Charter Day, it would tell Canadians and visitors from around the world that Canada is not a nation that was founded on the principles of tolerance and fairness, but is a country that has learned the hard lessons of its history and evolved into such a nation