Mr. Speaker, let me first acknowledge and congratulate the member for Don Valley North for bringing this motion forward. Indeed, this is a motion that I will certainly support.
As well, I want to begin this debate by acknowledging the first peoples of this land for allowing us to build our lives here. All of us who are not indigenous came from other places to make Canada our home. Over the years, Canada has become a wonderful multicultural country that was built by the faces of this world. To that end, I want to acknowledge the first peoples, and then pay tribute to the multicultural community for the fantastic contributions they have made over these many years to building Canada.
This motion acknowledges specifically the spring festival that is celebrated by the Asian community. When I talk about the Asian community, it is much broader than just the Chinese community. It is celebrated by people from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam. People from all of the different places in the Asian community celebrate the spring festival.
The Spring festival has a very interesting origin, which is traced back thousands of years, from a series of traditions and legends. One of the most famous that I remember as a little girl growing up is that of the Nian. As we were told, this famous Nian is believed to be a monstrous beast that would come and attack us and we would all run scared, and so on. History has it that we would do different things to ward off the Nian. We would use the red couplets that are seen from time to time in celebration of the Asian community. They are two red pieces of paper with a little Chinese poem written on it in Chinese black or gold ink. Sometimes we would light firecrackers to ward off this monster. That is the legend that we were brought up to believe.
Of course, in celebrating it, I remember as a little girl that the thing I loved about it the most is this. In preparation for it my mother would clean the house 10 days before the lunar new year, we would clean the house from corner to corner. We were given new slippers, new pyjamas, new clothes, and fantastic food. Of course come lunar new year's day we would get the red pockets. The most exciting thing for us about the red pockets is that there was money in them. For a little girl to get a dollar or whatever amount of money is very exciting. Then relatives and friends come to visit, and we would visit them, collect more red pockets with money, and fill our pockets full of candies. It was an enormous celebration. This is what I remember when I was a little girl in Hong Kong.
Then we immigrated to Canada, there was very little known about the lunar new year festival. We came in 1976, when I was a little girl, and we sort of celebrated among ourselves, with a few friends, but other than that there really was not much going on. I will say this. Over the years I have been so happy to see the celebration and acknowledgement of the lunar new year. Right now in Vancouver is the 43rd anniversary of the lunar new year parade. I remember when it first started. There was maybe a parade of 10 or 20 people. It was not very big. However, over the years we are now up to over 100,000 people who come to the parade, rain or shine. It is absolutely a tremendous celebration. It is not just people in the Asian community who come out to celebrate it. These are people from all walks of life. I dare say that we have had elected officials from all levels of government, and people from this very House, who have come and celebrated the lunar new year parade with us in Vancouver, including prime ministers. I would say that politicians would fight to get to the front of the line to be seen in this parade. Now it is absolutely a celebration that is recognized by all walks of life.
To bring this celebration together takes a lot of hard work. It does not just happen by itself. There are a lot of people behind the scenes. There are tremendous volunteers who work at the celebration every year. As soon as it is over, they are once again planning for the next year's celebration.
To that end, I would like to acknowledge, particularly from my community in east Vancouver, the Chinatown spring festival parade organizers: the Chinese Benevolent Association, the Chinese Cultural Centre, the Chinatown Merchants Association, SUCCESS, the Chinese Freemasons, and the Shon Yee Benevolent Association. They toil day and night preparing for this giant parade. Not only that, after the parade, we accumulate over 1,000 people in the largest restaurant that we have in the Lower Mainland. We all gather there and have a feast to continue the celebration.
Of course, as per the tradition, the lunar new year does not just end on the first day, but continues on, weeks on end. So many of the clan associations carry on the festive atmosphere well into spring. In fact, just last week I attended a community event and we still were celebrating the lunar new year festival and bringing in the new year.
This year, the year of the monkey, the lunar new year was actually February 9, and we are now June 1. The good member here has brought this motion forward, and months later we are still talking about the lunar new year festival. To recognize it and declare it in this sense so it is shared among all the communities across the country is a wonderful gesture.
I should also acknowledge that the city of Vancouver, over the years, has also made its declaration in recognition of the lunar new year celebration. The province of British Columbia has done the same for many years now. In fact, a family day was established.
The family day history actually started with a conversation with a number of people in our community. They thought it would be great to have a family day in the month of February, when we did not have a statutory holiday, and to time it so it would fall during the time of the lunar new year festival. That is how family day came about. Now, it does not exactly fall on the lunar new year day, because every year that day changes. Therefore, it is kind of hard to pick the actual date, because it changes every year with the lunar new year calendar, but it is close enough. That is the origin of the family day celebration in British Columbia.
I am very delighted to support the motion. There is no question that the more we talk about different cultures, the more we engage and embrace each other, the more we celebrate who we are and what we are about, and share that information, we are only going to enhance the spirit of multiculturalism, the knowledge and education of each other and to appreciate the different cultures we bring to the table with that celebration. We have truly reached what we have all strived so hard to do in the spirit of multiculturalism, which is the recognition and full participation of every community in all walks of life in what we do together as one.
I want to thank the member for bringing this motion forward. I look forward to the support of all members of the House for this motion so we can all walk in unison, with harmony and in a good way to celebrate each and every one of us, no matter who we are or where we come from.