On Friday, January 22 the Ontario Liberal Caucus held a media reception at the Verdi Hospitality Center in Mississauga for Ontario’s ethnic media representatives in light of celebrating Ontario’s diversity. The special guest of the evening was Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne, who thanked all for coming and stressed the media’s crucial role in creating connections between communities of Ontario.
The Liberal MPP Hon Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough—Guildwood), who once an immigrant, having emigrated from Jamaica to Ontario with her family as a child, opened the reception. She said that Ontario’s strength comes from the broad spectrum of people who come from many different backgrounds. “The multicultural press is at the heart of bringing out that diversity and amplifying it”, she said. Every year there are thousands of immigrants who come to Ontario in search of a new, better life. Mitzie Hunter believes that the ethic press is essential to helping these individuals integrate into the mosaic of Ontario’s society: “Being able to read about the successes of members of their community helps bring people together. Being able to hear the news in their language helps them to get involved and increases the sense of belonging.”
Mitzie Hunter introduced the attending members of the Ontario Liberal Caucus. Among them were: Yvan Baker, MPP Etobicoke Center, Dipika Demarla, MPP Mississauga East Cooksville, Indira Naidoo-Harris, MPP Halton, Cristina Martins, MPP Davenport, Harinder Malhi, MPP Brampton-Springdale, Bob Delaney, MPP Mississauga-Streetsville, Kathryn McGarry, MPP Cambridge, and Eleanor McMahon, MPP Burlington. Finally, she welcomed Premier Kathleen Wynne to the stage.
Kathleen Wynne greeted the audience in the different languages, trying to precisely repeat every “good evening” that was shouted from the crowd. She said: “We are enormously privileged to live in a place that people from all over the world call “home”. Part of that privilege calls on us – I think – to show respect to the long history of first nations and Metis people in Ontario. You heard me say this before, but apart from our indigenous people every single one of us came from somewhere else. I was just calling out the musical group who were playing “Danny Boy”, which is my heritage – Irish.
We may have come six months ago, or six generation ago, or I met some people that came about six days ago. But we all came for the same reason – to build this beautiful place. And so it’s a huge privilege. Because of that I want to acknowledge that we gathered on a traditional territory of several of those Indigenous nations and give special acknowledgment to the people or Turtle Island and the Mississauga Port Credit, because that is the traditional group that lived here.
I am going to India next week and I want to share a quote that I came upon this week, it’s from Indian philosopher and monk Swami Vivekananda, who in Chicago in 1893 said this of his homeland: “We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to the nation which has sheltered the prosecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the Earth.”
I think it’s wonderful that a 100 years later we can feel the same sense of pride at being a place defined by diversity, a place of refuge for those persecuted due to war, religious intolerance or hate. And I want to thank our ethnic media for helping to make this place we call Ontario that place of tolerance and openness. Mitzie talked about how important you are to that openness that we have. Recently we got to see Ontario’s generosity spirit first-hand as we have welcomed and continue to welcome thousands of refugees from the Syrian conflict through donations, volunteering and sponsorship. People of Ontario once again – because it is one of many instances where this has happened – shown that we embrace all people, that we will do all that we can to help those in need. And as those families set down roots in communities across Ontario, find jobs, stat schools and become active members of our society, I know that they will turn to the people in this room, to all of you, for information, for stories that reflect who they are and for their chance to voice their concerns. You are the first line for them.
The Ontario’s government can’t build the Ontario up alone, we need a broad community to be part of that. And by giving voice to every community in province, Ontario’s ethnic media are indispensable partners in building a province where they feel they belong and they are represented. But there’s another way that our diverse media voices are building the Ontario up and that brings me back to my India trip. In the 21st century there is nothing more powerful than a few flowing exchange of information and ideas. And sharing information is your job. In India, as we did in China, I will be promoting Ontario’s innovating clean tech sector, meeting with business leaders and government officials and taking part in some of India’s vibrant culture. And media provide that vital link, making sure that everyone back home is kept up to date about what we are doing as representatives of Ontario in India, the progress that we are making for the people of Ontario, and most importantly the opportunity to deepen our person to person connection and create new investment and trade opportunities here and half way around the world.
It is important that we bring back opportunities and it is equally important to establish those relationships. Another big problem that the whole world is dealing with is climate change. We live in one globe, we share one environment, one climate and it’s our responsibility to make sure we know each other and understand each other, and that we deepen that understanding and that we promote peace and harmony. I think that’s one of the most important things that Canada can do in the world and we can do our part here in Ontario by understanding and getting to know each other better. So the economic, the environmental, the social and the emotional connections are important. This evening we’re in Mississauga – a city that boats the highest percentage of people of East Indian origin and the highest percentage of immigrants from south Asia that you will find anywhere else outside of India. So I can’t tell you how crucial your job is to helping me achieve my number one priority, which is creating jobs and growth of the people of Ontario. In the 21st century economy our diversity is a huge advantage but only if we play to it. It’s not enough to say that we are diverse – we have to use that diversity to make those connections, to understand each other better to build those economic opportunities.”
MPP Yvan Baker wrapped up the formal part of the program and thanked the media audience for the hard work that they do and the Premier of Ontario for the work that she does to make Ontario a diverse and successful province.
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