This Monday has marked the last day of the Canadian Tulip Festival in the city of Ottawa, which was held from May 12th to 23rd 2016 to wrap up with a bright note on Victoria Day. This is a rare opportunity to reflect on the Tulip legacy and government public events in Canada. The multicultural character of this festival can serve as example for government endeavours.
As a fun, family day-out, and nature celebration event, the Tulip Festival usually gathers people from across the country and internationally. And this year has been no exception.
This blog focus on the diversity of the festival in terms of music, arts, gastronomy, and gathering. However, let’s start with some history.
A friendship legacy
The Tulip Festival has been in the Canadian landscape for more than 60 years now. What started as a donation of flowers quickly became an integrant part of the country’s national celebrations. In fact, Canada offered political asylum to the royal family of the Netherlands who had to flee their country because of the Nazi Invasion in May 1940.
While in Canada, a member of the royal family, “Princess Juliana, gave birth to daughter Princess Margriet at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, which was temporarily declared extraterritorial by the Government of Canada, to ensure the princess would hold exclusively Dutch, rather than dual nationality“. As a way to secure Princess Margriet’s rights to claim the throne when the time comes. – the Canadian Tulip Festival
As a thank you gesture Princess Juliana offered Canada among other gifts an initial 100 000 Tulip bulbs and more later to be planted at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. This friendship legacy has led to what is known today as the Canadian Tulip Festival on a suggestion of world-renowned photographer Malak Karsh. For more interesting facts about the history of the Tulip Festival, visit The Tulip Legacy Story at the Canadian Tulip Festival website.
A gathering of diversity
I will always remember my first trip to the Tulip Festival back in 2006 while I was living in Montreal. I had a blast and fell in love with the city of Ottawa and now 10 years later I have been an Ottawan for over three years.
This year, even as a resident of Ottawa, I had as much fun at the festival. Just like previous years, stunning flowers, varied gastronomy, beautiful artistic events, fun kid activities, and nice music were at the party.
Once again, it was a display of diversity, particularly amongst visitors. As a person of colour living in Canada, festivals are one of my favorite things. It’s usually a common ground between people of different skin colour, background, and ethnicity. This is where you get to see different people mingle together as everybody is looking for a chance to have fun outdoor, taste different food, listen to music, dance, take selfies, and create memories.
Although there is room for improvement in terms of diversity of organisation, it’s important to recognize there has been an important effort in this area. A good example is the diversity of different gastronomy, culture, and music present at the Alberdeen Pavillon at Landsdowne Park.
At the indoor market you could taste food from almost all over the world, buy African, Asian, or European wears or listen to a multitude of different languages. The beauty of this diversity is one of the things that makes Canada a great country. However, cultural diversity should go deeper than arts and festival and affect all social and government spheres.
Cultural Diversity Display
A hope for a more culturally diverse future
For next year and all the subsequent Tulip festivals and national events in general (Canada Day is just out of the corner), I hope for an event that will go beyond a mere friendship between Canada and Netherlands/ United Kingdom. I hope for an event that will reflect the diversity of the nation, an event that will truly portray the multiculturalism that has been at the dawn of the nation.
Multiculturalism and diversity are keys for economic growth and are essential to compete in a globalized world as different people bring different flavours, different ways to do thing, different ways to innovate.
My last hope is that the multicultural effort showcased this year serve not only as model for subsequent social events but become the norm in Canadian policy and government endeavours. It’s important that Ottawa as the Nation’s Capital set the example for the rest of the country.
Here’s to more diverse and multicultural efforts in Canada!