Refection on History of Bangladeshi Canadians
Author: CASSA
Date: 2012-05-11 18:50:39
Category: all categories
Metatags: Bangladeshi,


“As a politician, my aim is to work for a just society in Canada, so I want to support social justice work of CASSA”. - Honourable Matthew Kellway MP, Beaches-East York.
International Mother Language Day 2012 celebrated in Toronto at Crescent Town Club on February 25, 2012. CASSA (Council of Agencies Serving South Asians) and OBCS (Ontario Bengali Cultural Society) jointly organized this event, where more than 75 people participated. Honourable Matthew Kellway MP, Beaches-East York and Councilor Janet Davis attended the event as special guests. They both congratulated the achievement of Bangladeshi community in Canada for their achievements, and their contribution to enrich Canadian culture and society.

A children’s art festival, display of Bangladeshi history and culture in Canada, fabulous dance and singing performances by child artists, and open discussions were the main components of the program.     

Dr. Mahbub Hasan of CASSA initiated the discussion and said, “We have achieved a lot since the language movement 1952. We have got Bangla as a state language and consequently ‘Bangladesh’ emerged as an independent country”. He also reflected on the history of immigration of South Asian Communities in Canada and how they faced challenges. He mentioned the Komagata Maru incident, which involved a Japanese steamship that sailed to Vancouver in 1914, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, India. But the passengers were not allowed to land in Canada, and the ship was forced to return to India. In 2008, the Canadian  Government apologized for this incident and supports projects like ‘Brown Canada’ to document the history and culture of immigrants. He also presented information on the history of Bangladeshi settlements in Canada, and provided information about Crescent Town which is now known as ‘Bangla Town’, Danforth ‘Bangla Market’, and cultural practices of Bangladeshi community in Toronto. He said, “this is the beginning of the project, and we require all of your support to document the history of Bangladeshi Canadians”.

The President of OBCS, Ms Farhana Rahman, mentioned that it has been a great pleasure for them to work with CASSA on this historic project. She expressed her enthusiasm and said OBCS will provide information to CASSA on Bangladeshi Canadians.    

A Member of Parliament, Mr. Kellway, highlighted International Mother Language day and the importance of recording Bangladeshi Canadian history.  He stressed his desire to help CASSA’s social justice work.  He urged that, “…much work needs to be done so that Canada is a socially just society.”  He went even further by saying that he wants to work as an active participant in social justice.  

Councilor Janet Davis applauded CASSA and OBCS efforts to work together and bridge common histories.  She stated, “I’m very excited by this (Brown Canada) project and to highlight the history of the Bangladeshi community, its past and present.” She also gave a history of the Crescent Area, which was funded by the famous Massy family. She said, “I would love to meet the wonderful students of Crescent Town School and would like to discuss the history of Crescent Town.” She also pointed out the warmth of the Bangladeshi community and how she has always felt welcomed by them.  She witnessed the accomplishments of the community through successful businesses situated on the Danforth, students excelling at school, and through thriving communities.   Councilor Janet said that she was extremely impressed by the International Mother Languages Day monument in Dhaka.  What is more, she emphasized her hope and desire to see a monument erected in Toronto.  A location has been approved, and hopefully it will be constructed very soon”.  She was very positive about the future of the Bangladeshi community in Toronto and in her words, “the possibilities are endless.”  

Farzana Islam, CASSA’s youth volunteer, shared her story of how she gradually adapted to Canadian culture and education system. Eminent journalist, Mr. Fuad Chowdhury, also spoke at the event and told the audience that the Language movement of 1952 has an immense  significance to protect culture and heritage of a nation or community. The special guests distributed certificates and prizes among the children.

Mr. Sarwar Mustafa, Board Member of CASSA, thanked all for their participation. He also thanked OBCS Board Members, Advisor Mr. Areef Rahman, presenter Poroma Rahman, staff and Volunteers of CASSA; and concluded the program. Later Bangladeshi and Canadian snacks were served as refreshments.    

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