Over 50 MPs and 200 guests joined the Honourable Maryam Monsef (Minister of Democratic Institutions), Majid Jowhari (MP for Richmond Hill), and I on the evening of Wednesday March 23rd to celebrate the first Nowruz reception on Parliament Hill. Nowruz marks the first day of the Vernal Equinox and is celebrated by over 300 million people around the world. Given that many Canadians across Canada now celebrate Nowruz, we thought it was high time to celebrate the occasion for the first time in the nation’s Capital.
Guests from across the country gathered at the Sir John A. MacDonald building on Parliament Hill for an evening of food, drinks, speeches, and cultural performances. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the celebrations to deliver New Year’s greetings, meet with guests, and pose for photographs. Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion also attended to deliver a passionate speech where he affirmed Canada’s diversity as a source of strength.
Minister Monsef touched on similar themes when addressing the crowd, remarking that Canada’s institutions are a reflection of its tremendous diversity, before asking the crowd to join her in reciting the seminal poem Bani Adam by the Persian poet Sa’adi.
“This venerable and joyous holiday brings together peoples of different cultures and languages to mark renewal and reflection. It is a celebration of family, community, and new beginnings. We are so fortunate to live in such a great country where we can celebrate diverse holidays and cultures,” I remarked before quoting Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier:
“Let them look to the past, but let them also look to the future. Let them look to the land of their ancestors, but let them also look to land of their children.”
Following speeches, the evening continued with performances by musician Hamidreza Naderian, dancer Shahrokh Moshkin Qalam, and dancer Parwaneh Rowshan. The evening concluded with a large group-photo around the Haft-Seen, a traditional Nowruz table arrangement meant to symbolize rebirth, renewal and hope.