Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks at the Vaisakhi Celebration reception
My friends, I am so honoured to be here with you all tonight to join you as we celebrate Vaisakhi. A celebration in Punjab that marks the spring harvest and the end of winter. Now, I’m not sure we can be optimistic that it’s the end of winter here right now in Ottawa, but there’s always reason to hope.
Vaisakhi highlights some great cultural traditions that we all know very well. I’ve had many great experiences personally with Punjabi culture. Food of course stands out. Samosas and jalebi are everyone’s favourites.
I’ve even attempted to make jalebi. Yeah. It’s much harder than it looks, as you know. But you can’t have celebration without music and dancing. Many of you have probably seen my attempts at bhangra dancing on YouTube. I’m in a room full of experts. Did I totally embarrass you or was it okay?
Yeah, you’re… thank you, you’re very generous and kind.
Now, as a kid growing up with our winters here, I didn’t have much… a sense of what a spring harvest might be except of course it was the time when we harvested maple syrup. But I know that right now there’s a generation of young people right across this country who know that there is such a thing as a spring harvest because young people across this country in high schools and elementary schools from coast to coast to coast now celebrate Vaisakhi.
This is an opportunity not just to learn about Vaisakhi, but people share their holidays and their diversity, and we learn that culture and identity is done by addition in this country. That we can add celebrations that reflect on the great diversity of our country and do nothing but add to our collective and individual sense of who we are and what the future might be.
When we celebrate Vaisakhi, when we celebrate Diwali, when we celebrate Eid al-Fitr, or the lunar New Year, we emphasize that Canada is this one extraordinary place. Strong, not in spite of our differences but because of those differences.
And that is how it should be. In a country as welcoming and diverse as Canada, we have a duty to learn more about the many religions and cultures that make up our communities. That is how we became a strong country, not in spite of our differences but because of those differences.
Unfortunately, as we know, Canada hasn’t always lived up to the ideal of accepting diversity and differences as strength. As I announced this morning, next month on May 18th, I will stand in the House of Commons and offer a full and formal apology for the Komagata Maru incident.
But, just as we look back and acknowledge where we have failed, so to do we need to celebrate the remarkable success of the Sikh community here in Canada, and Vaisakhi is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
And I know this past year has been a really remarkable one for Canadian Sikhs, particularly in politics. My friends, I am so proud to serve in a Parliament that has 17 Sikh members.
And of those 17 members, four now sit with me in Cabinet.
And with the record number of Sikh MPs elected last October, Punjabi became the third most common language in the House of Commons after English and French.
From coast to coast to coast, we see the Punjabi language and culture integrating with Canadian culture. You know that’s true anytime you watch Hockey Night in Canada in Punjabi.
Not that anyone would want to watch hockey now anyway because the Canadian teams…
Montreal Canadiens will do better I know. Next year! Next year! There’s always next year. Those of you from Brampton or Mississauga, maybe one day you’ll get a hockey team you can call your own. No, I mean one for Brampton or Mississauga because the Toronto one’s not working out so well for you.
Now, all of these different perspectives are truly what make Canada great even though, you know, there’s no accounting for some tastes in hockey…
I don’t want to keep you much longer because I know there is some outstanding entertainment to come. Tonight we’ve got Satinder Sartaj performing for us.
And I know the bhangra performance will be much better than you see on Youtube.
So on behalf of the Government of Canada, the people of Canada, and of course Sophie and my own family, I offer my very best wishes for happiness, good health and prosperity on this Vaisakhi.
Happy Vaisakhi everyone.
Thank you very much. Thank you very much.