February 22, 2007

For Immediate Release

KLEES: Heritage Week Celebrates Ontario’s Cultural Mosaic, Past and Present

(Queen’s Park)  Oak Ridges MPP Frank Klees, the PC Education and Citizenship & Immigration Critic today said Heritage Week provides a focus on the ongoing cultural contributions of Ontario’s pioneers and contemporary multicultural communities.

“As Tourism Minister, I was asked many times by government representatives from other countries about how one could define Ontario’s heritage,” Klees said.  “These visitors were pleasantly surprised when I pointed out how their own national culture was already well represented in our province’s history and society as part of a great mosaic.”

“Multiculturalism began in Ontario centuries before the twentieth century.  When John Cabot discovered Canada on June 24th, 1497, he did so as ‘Giovanni Caboto,’ an Italian explorer who barely spoke English.  One year later, the Portuguese explorer, Real Corte, named Eastern Canada as ‘Labrador’ which is the Portuguese word for ‘farmer.’

“Ontario’s agriculture industry began with the founding of Ste. Marie among the Hurons by the French Jesuits near Midland, Ontario.  We also know that the Jesuits worked in York Region in 1641.

“On June 19th, 1793, Ontario (or Upper Canada) experienced its first multicultural immigration with the arrival of Loyalists representing a total of ten cultural groups, including:  African-Americans, Germans (also known as ‘Pennsylvania Deutsch’ which was pronounced ‘Dutch’), Scots, Irish and others. 

“The Ontario Progressive Conservative government tabled numerous bills and motions to celebrate Ontario’s heritage, many of which are now proclaimed into law, including Loyalist Day (June 19th), German Pioneers Day (Day after Thanksgiving Monday), Ontario Agriculture Week (week before Thanksgiving Day), Irish Heritage Day (March 17th), Tartan Day (April 6th) and others.

“A PC Motion to augment the Ontario coat of arms with additional symbols representing our province’s multicultural heritage was debated and passed.  Although the McGuinty Liberals voted in favour of the motion, they have, to date, refused to implement this cost-effective motion opting, instead, to spend millions on a new Ontario trillium logo.

“Under the PC government, Emancipation Day (August 1st), recognizing the abolition of the enslavement of Africans, was formally acknowledged and celebrated at Queen’s Park with the Ontario Black History Society and other African-Canadian organizations.

“During Heritage Week, Ontarians have an opportunity to recall our rich cultural history that forms a unique, contemporary living legacy for us all to be proud of and enjoy!”


For further information

Frank Klees, MPP


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