In February, there are a number of events that reflect Canada’s diversity, such as Black History Month and the Lunar New Year, celebrated by the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities. This is the Year of the Dog, and the celebrations continue for 15 days from the start of the lunar new year on Feb. 16.
For the past decade, Canada Post has issued stamps to commemorate the Lunar New Year. Last month, Canada Post launched the 2018 stamps for the Year of the Dog in Ward 6. The event attracted hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds, including stamp collectors from everywhere. I am very honoured to be invited by Canada Post to participate in the annual launch of the stamps in the past few years.
Richmond Hill has a unique connection with this year’s Lunar New Year commemorative stamps. Albert Ng, the calligrapher who put his masterpiece characters on the stamp, is a local resident. He was warmly welcomed by many stamp collectors, as people lined up to wait for their turns to have his autograph on their newly purchased Year of the Dog stamps.
Richmond Hill is proud of its diversity. On top of celebrating the many cultural festivals that occur throughout the year, the town provides interpretation services for people to walk in or call the town’s contact centre, Access Richmond Hill, through the telephone in 200 languages. For instance, if people need to have an interpreter in their native or preferred language, they simply have to ask for that language in English so that town staff can connect them with an interpreter who will join the telephone call or help with service over the counter. At this time, we are the only one of the nine municipalities in York Region that provides such an interpreter service.
Other than English, the three most commonly spoken languages around town are Chinese (including all dialects), Farsi and Russian. In recognition of this fact, Access Richmond Hill has prepared promotional material that features these three languages in addition to English. When the community organizers market the 50th Richmond Hill Winter Carnival that takes place this month, they will place advertisements in English, Chinese, Farsi and Russian too.
I welcome the opportunity to work together to build a strong society that respects each other, regardless of cultural background. Let’s make diversity our strength all over the town.