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Presentaion on Iranian community at "Asian Heritage" event held by York's police in Canada

Report and photos by Saeed Soltanpour (Source:  Salam Toronto)

An event was held by the York regional police at District #5 in Markham on May 21st to familiarize the members of the community a little more with heritage of those who have migrated from Asia.

When I attended this event last year, I realized that there are no participants from our beloved country of Iran. Therefore, for this year's events, I decided to reach out to Mr. Ali Atabaki, who has recently arrived in Canada as a PHD student of geology, to attend this event as a musician to help promote the Iranian culture.

Chief of Police greeting Muslim Imam and Sik leader

Through out the evening, people of all backgrounds were given the chance to either speak or perform a piece of art from their heritage for the rest of the attendees. Examples of this being Victoria Zu who played her Chinese instrument, the Guzheng, twice for the audience, or Reverend Shan Ping from Thornhill's Buddhist Temple who shared his experiences as a new comer to Canada at a time when she didn't speak a word of English.

Others took the podium and shared their good and bad experiences as well as interesting stories of their heritage, but ultimately, everyone was very proud to be a Canadian citizen and very happy to be living in Canada.

Time came for me to step up and represent the Iranian community. Mr. Atabaki opened up with a musical piece from 'Mahour' on his Santour which was greeted quite well by the audience.

Here are some excerpts from my presentation at the event:

Persia alongside China and India has been one of the three major pillars of Asia and world civilization. Today, just like India as the largest democracy and China as the largest labor and manufacturing export, Iran located at one of the most geopolitical points on the planet has a significant influence in the world.

Fortunately or not, for thousands of years, Iran has been part of the Silk road connecting major trade routes from east to west. Trade on the Silk road was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations of China, India, Egypt, Persia, Arabia and Rome and in many respects helped lay the foundations for the modern world.

Other factors such as oil richness or being located in the Middle East are of significant importance. Three major religions have their holy places located in the region.

Several political waves have impacted Iran through out the years such as regime changes or wars, which have resulted in similar waves of migration out of Iran to countries like Canada. Unfortunately, to undergo such transitions in life, often times even an educated individual has had to go through tough physical working conditions to survive.

You can find many examples of this in Canada. People who've received legitimate degrees from legitimate universities in Iran migrating to Canada only to be told that their degree is meaningless here. These people are then forced to start from scratch which I'm sure you can imagine is extremely tough. The reward however is that when you, as a Canadian citizen, travel across the globe with a Canadian passport, you receive the respect and treatment that you deserve.

Some interesting facts about Iranians in Canada that should not go unnoticed are:

  1. Jian Ghomeishi, CBC host is an Iranian
  2. Three Miss Canada winners have been Iranian origin, 2003, 2005 and 2008
  3. Currently, two members of parliament are Iranian:
    Dr. Reza Moridi, Richmond Hill M.P.P
    Dr. Amir Khadir, Québec solidaire representative
  4. Four hundred Iranian home builders have had $700,000,000 dollars worth of input on homes built along side Yonge Street.
  5. Forty Iranian businessmen generate a billion dollars in Ontario annually
  6. Almost 5000 Iranian students attend York University.

Canada has a lot to teach us when it comes to peace and harmony. It's a great democratic model from an ethnic point of view.

Where else in the world can you find a gathering which consists of people from all ethnic groups?
I'd like to thank Chief Armand Labarge, who has always tried to reach out to ethnic communities and has encouraged them to take on a more active role in the community. It is important for all of us to join together and make Canada even better than what it is.

Related Sites: ( Persian) ( English)

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