Remarks by Ambassador Selçuk Ünal at the opening ceremony of International Children's Day Festival and Turkish Cultural Days celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Confederation at Lansdowne Park, Ottawa
Your Worship Mayor Watson,
Volunteers of Turkish Canadian Cultural Association and Turkish Association of Canada,
Turkish and Canadian Friends, Distinguished Guests and Artists,
And, last but not least, Dear Children,
April 23rd, 1920 was the day of the foundation of the Turkish Parliament (Turkish Grand National Assembly). It was dedicated to Turkish and world children by the Turkish Parliament and its first Speaker Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk for the hope of eternal peace.
After a long struggle for liberation for three and a half years, Lausanne Peace Treaty was signed on July 24, 1923. On October 29, 1923, the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed. Modern Turkey, after its foundation, never looked back and set the standards of reconciliation and peace of its time.
Since 1979, recognized by UNICEF, April 23rd has been celebrated everywhere with the participation of world children. As we speak, similar traditional celebrations are being held in Turkey and different parts of the globe with participation of children from various countries. A sheer lack of understanding of the importance of connections in this spirit compelled us to pause the event prepared for the children in Ottawa tomorrow. However, Turkish Canadians were firm to uplift the spirit of celebration of the 150th anniversary of their present home, Canada, as well as the spirit of April 23 and April 25. This is what we are gratifed to see today.
Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Turkish Airlines, Turkish Canadian Cultural Association and Turkish Association of Canada have made this event possible. We greatly thank them all. I would like to welcome renowned artists of Turkish State Opera and Ballet (Ms. Funda Hayfavi, Ms. Aslı Kıyıcı, Mr. Umut Kosman, Ms. Aylin Özügür and Mr. Emrah Sözer) and award winning folkloric dance group HOY-TUR. Turkish Ministry of Culture dispatched a book exhibition of various Turkish novelists translated to English and French which will provide the visitors an understanding of Turkey’s literature. There is also a Photo Exhibition on the wonders of Turkey recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage. Renowned Turkish-Canadian artist Hikmet Çetinkaya’s exhibition on poppies which is a joint theme between two countries, is on display. There will be a Photo Collages Exhibition on Gallipoli 1915 on the occasion of the Anzac Day commemoration whereas Newfoundlanders have bravely participated in the Gallipoli/Çanakkale Campaign 102 years ago. Various exhibitions for children including “Karagöz” Turkish Shadow Puppet Theatre by Birol Uzunmehmetoğlu, traditional water marble painting by Hacer Özkan both from Toronto as well as Turkish sticky ice cream for children offered by Marash Coffee from Montreal. Music and stage shows of other Ottawa communities who joined the 150 Celebrations with the Turkish community, which we already started to see, show another good example of multi-cultural facet of Canada. I sincerely thank them all.
We are here upon the invitation of the organisers. So I wish Ottawa a very happy 150th Celebration. I hope you will enjoy the Turkish Cultural Days too. Thank you.
And a few words for the Turkish community in Ottawa:
Değerli Vatandaşlarım, 23 Nisan 1920 Türk halkının milli iradesinin tecelli ettiği ve İstiklal Savaşımızın TBMM önderliğinde devam ettirildiği bir gündür. Hepiniz 23 Nisan’ın anlam ve önemini biliyorsunuz.
Bugün Türk milletinin dik durduğu gündür.
Hepinizi tebrik ediyorum.
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