Monday 19th March 2012.

Newroz Statement by the Honourable Jim Karygiannis, Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt and Liberal Critic for Multiculturalism.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish members of the Canadian Kurdish community Happy Newroz, on the occasion of the Arian New Year.

Newroz is the most important festival in the Kurdish tradition. Meaning ’New Sun’ and ’New Day’, Newroz is celebrated at the spring equinox on March 20, 2011. There are many explanations for the origins of Newroz, with records of the spring festival found as early as 3000 BC. The festival symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness, the celebration of new life and freedom from oppression. The origins of this festival date back 5000 years.

This celebration commemorates one of the founding myths of Kurdish identity. Legend holds that Kava, a blacksmith’s son, killed a child-eating giant and, after slaying the beast, lit a fire to signal his terrorized people that they no longer need live in fear.

Today, Kurds, the descendants of Kava, light fires during Newroz – often by burning tires as a symbol of resistance, independence and survival in the face of tyranny.

As a Member of Parliament, I have worked closely with the Kurdish Diaspora in Canada on many issues important to the community.

In June 2011, I traveled to Turkey and witnessed voting in the 17th General Election in Kurdish regions of the country. In October 2011, following the earthquakes that struck eastern Turkey, I stood with the Canadian Kurdish community calling on the Conservative government to assist earthquake victims.

On March 16, 2010, the twenty-second Anniversary of the Halabja Gassing, Members of Parliament adopted my Motion to condemn the poisonous gas attack in Halabja, the destruction of Iraqi Kurdish villages and the systematic persecution of Kurds in Iraq by Saddam Hussein as crimes against humanity. In 2009, I visited Kurdistan, Iraq and the Monument of Halabja Martyrs. I told the survivors I would ask the House of Commons to declare the actions of the Saddam Hussein government against the Kurdish people to be a crime against humanity. Thanks to all Members of Parliament, I have been able to keep my promise.

Canada is a proud multicultural nation that embraces a wide variety of cultures and heritages. Canadians of Kurdish heritage are making significant contributions to our multicultural society.

As you celebrate Newroz, I wish you endless happiness and prosperity for the coming year.

Newroz pîroz be!

Hon. Jim Karygiannis P.C., M.P.
Liberal Critic of Multiculturalism
Constituency Office
3850 Finch Ave East Suite 206
Scarborough Ontario
M1T 3T6