A synopsis of the outgoing speech by CEMA President Ben Viccari at the annual awards gala of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association on June 27, 2008. The day was also Multiculturalism Day in Canada and CEMA’s 30th birthday. Ben, a long-time journalist, commentator and communications specialist, who turns 90 on July 2, 2008, a.k.a. Senor Multiculturalism, is well-known as one of the most fervent backers of Canada showing the world how different cultures can live harmoniously. He recently produced a documentary on the subject called The ‘M’ Word.
It gives me enormous pride and pleasure to introduce our 30th Anniversary Gala on Multiculturalism Day 2008.
I must first inform you of a last minute change in our program. The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of State for Multiculturalism, who was to have brought greetings from Prime Minister Harper, cannot be with us until later this evening.
We wish to welcome Ontario Minister of Citizenshiup and Immigration Michael Chan, federal memnber of Parliament for Willowdale, Ms. Martha Hall Findlay and Mr. John Tory, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Other distinguished guests include our presenters and of course, our award winners who will be more suitably introduced later. I thank you for this final opportunity to address you as president.
There are literally hundreds of people to thank for this special CEMA event: Rogers for the use of these great premises, Rogers OMNI Television for taping this whole presentation so it can be seen by hundreds of thousands of others: and so on. First showings are : OMNI 1 Sunday July 20th from 9–11 p.m and OMNI 2 Friday July 25 from 10 p.m. to midnight.
In the interest of time, I must confine further thanks to but one person: the father of us all: editor/publisher Sierhey Khmara Ziniak whose courage led to the founding of this inclusive organization. Knowing the penalties for his views and the right to publish he had suffered imprisonment before coming to Canada. Small wonder he grew impatient about the existing ethnic media association which included only publishers of print media.
Hence CEMA and we thank him for the ability to arrive at this celebration 30 years later. We are pleased too, that following his principles of independence we have reached this point without financial assistance from government at any level.
We of the ethnic media have a big task ahead of us — and I’ll tell you why. In his most recent book Queens University Professor Will Kymlicka, considered a guru of multiculturalism, writes of the possibility of its being accepted on a global basis. He admits the course is daunting especially since conflict exists in so many countries where there are but one or two bitterly opposed ethnic groups. But Kymlicka insists that we must, in the final analysis, all recognize ethnic relationships as a matter of recognizing human rights.
Here it is a different cup ot tea or jug of saki or shot of slivovitch or un fiasco di vino. We are already a multi, multi cultural nation, where many of our citizens in spite of coming from conflicted countries, have learned to live together. It is this we must build on.
Ethnic journalism has not only the task of working passionately for freedom and human rights and against censorship in any form. We have to continue to show how we, as journalists can even further promote harmony between ethnicities. We have to make our spirit shine even brighter as we help others march toward citizenship in the best country in the world. And in our so doing, Canada will shine even brighter globally as a symbol of democracy and harmony to continue to be admired by other nations.
Friends, it has been an honor to serve you and I thank you all for the privilege.
Now, all together: HAPPY 30th ANNIVERSARY CEMA!