“Good evening, namaste, sat sri akal.
“I want to greet everybody, colleagues at the Parliament of Canada there are really too many to name, Acting High Commissioner, members of the diplomatic service, nice to have you here, members of the Indo-Canadian community, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
“First of all, I want to thank Deepak, not just for that kind introduction, but once again, I know he’s already been recognized, but to recognize him for the event that is taking place this evening.
“Over the years, nobody has worked harder than Deepak to bring together Parliamentarians and Indo-Canadian leaders to mark the age-old celebration of Diwali, right here in the nation’s capital.
“So, we all thank and we congratulate Deepak for making this a great new Canadian tradition.
“And it’s getting bigger and bigger every year, we’re going to have to get bigger venues, now when they get that new football stadium finished Deepak, we’ll have to have it there some year.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this national celebration of Diwali is now, as has been mentioned, in its twelfth year.
“It is an annual reminder that Canada’s embrace of pluralism, is not just an act of faith, but it is a product of experience.
“It further reminds us that Canada welcomes immigrants from everywhere on earth and provides to all a chance to get ahead, to make better lives for our families, and to contribute to our communities and our country.
“The success of Canada’s Indo-Canadian community is a testament to this fact.
“It is almost a million strong, you are leading Canadian doctors and lawyers, professors and teachers, public office holders, successful business men and women, and hard-working employees.
“All across Canada, you have prospered.
“And as good Canadians, you have brought and continue to honour the tradition of charitable giving that is such an important part of Diwali.
“I’d just like to briefly recognize and talk about one particularly fine example of this that’s happening in Mississauga and the surrounding area.
“There, ten years ago, the South Asian community there approached the Trillium Health Centre Foundation with a partnership idea.
“Could the foundation and the community jointly host a Diwali fundraiser to benefit local hospitals?
“Well, the thought became the father of the deed.
“In that first year, six hundred people attended and raised more than one hundred-thousand dollars.
“Since that first event, Trillium Diwali has raised almost five million dollars for critical projects at sites such as the Credit Valley Hospital and theTrillium Health Centre.
“This year’s Gala was held in Brampton two weeks ago.
“More than eleven hundred guests attended this year, all responding to the theme Eat, Play, Give.
“If I could just quote what President Hoscheit, who is the President and CEO of the Trillium Health Centre Foundation said about his feelings about this event, he said and I quote:
“‘That generosity is a true testament to what the celebration of Diwali is all about.
“‘There is no greater gift than the gift of health.
“‘We could not be more grateful to our Trillium Diwali supporters for all they have done in support of health care excellence in our community,’ unquote.
“That’s a great tribute and I know it warms all of our hearts when we hear stories like that.
“There is something special and vibrant about a culture in which charitable giving is a way of life.
“There also is something special and vibrant about a festival where meeting the needs of others becomes part of the celebration.
“So, ladies and gentlemen, the sharing of Diwali is a very welcome Indian addition to the Canadian calendar.
“For that, I’d like to congratulate all of you.
“You are spreading goodwill between the cultures.
“In fact, half the people who attended the gala I talked about this year were not Indo-Canadians.
“The recognition of Diwali here is also part of building the bonds of contact and friendship between us and that great nation, India.
“In just a few days, I will be visiting India, as has been mentioned, for important talks with one of Canada’s good friends and partners, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“Our countries relations have been developing and deepening rapidly in recent years.
“They are based on a solid foundation of things such as language, a federal system of government, a commitment to democracy and pluralism, and the shared cultural experiences like the event we are sharing this evening.
“There is, however, a lot of room for the relationship to grow, especially in areas of trade and investment.
“Friends and partners we are indeed, Canada and India, but friends we should also be doing more together.
“So, I look forward to another productive visit to India.
“In the meantime, as you gather with friends and family for the Festival of Lights, please accept my best wishes for a happy Diwali, and for health and good fortune throughout the year.