International Mother Language Day Celebrated in Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY – International Mother Language Day was celebrated for the first time in Thunder Bay as the community came together at the Waverly Library.

A standing-room-only crowd gathered to learn about International Mother Language Day, which is an international day to celebrate and remember the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity.

The day remembers the Bengali people who were killed on this day as they sought to protect their language and culture. Student demonstrators were killed by police at a demonstration in 1952.

The City of Thunder Bay declared the day with a proclamation from Mayor Bill Mauro.

International Mother Language Day was first celebrated in Canada in 2014. Member of Parliament Matthew Kellway led the passage of Bill-573. British Columbia and Manitoba have joined Canada in recognizing the day, celebrated annually on February 21st.

The efforts in Thunder Bay were led by Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal, and International Student studying at Lakehead University.

In the video are the numerous speakers, the dignitaries, and the proclamation as read out by the Mayor.

FEBRUARY 21, 2020

WHERE AS; International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is a worldwide annual observance held on February 21st that promotes an awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity as well as multilingualism. International Mother Language Day commemorates the Bengali people who sacrificed their life to protect their language and culture; and

WHERE AS; a community, despite the languages we speak we are the same and deserve the same respect as anyone else. This is the central message of International Mother Language Day. Canadians have the same beliefs about that and we want to let everyone know that you’re special, no matter which language you speak, or to which culture or nation you belong; and

WHERE AS; everyone has the right to use their own mother language, and to keep the memories, traditions and ways of thinking that their language represent, and this is what International Mother Language Day is all about. We want to let people know Thunder Bay is a welcoming community for everyone, regardless of what language they speak or what culture they celebrate!

NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor Bill Mauro, on behalf of Thunder Bay City Council, do hereby proclaim February 21 as “International Mother Language Day” in the City of Thunder Bay.

Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal says, “International Mother Language Day in Thunder Bay – the turnout was amazing. The Waverly Library was incredible – In just over a week, a team of dedicated volunteers put together a standing room only event that surpassed our expectations totally.

“The Elders and the drums and teachings helped to lead the day and inspire us all. In my language, dhonnobad, thank-you and meegwetch.

“Thank you to EVERYONE who attended. It was a community lead event.

“Special thanks to the Thunder Bay Public Library for showing such amazing community leadership. Thank you to Annette Pateman for doing an amazing job as MC. Carol Grieve and all the library staff were incredible.

“The speeches from all who came forward inspired and will continue to inspire many across our city and beyond.

“The Office of the City Clerk was super. They helped make this event a success.

“The elected officials, Mayor Bill Mauro, MPP Judith Montieth Farrell and the representation from MP Patty Hajdu and MPP Michael Gravelle helped us make history in our city.

“Thanks to Rounak Bhowmick, President of Bengali club of Thunder Bay, Jahidul Islam, Soban Khan for a great speech, Souvik Mukherjee for Photography, Afra Abiyat Reshmi for handing out flowers.

“Thanks to Sheena for your support and help and Yuk Sem Won for your support. As well thanks to Tasneem.

“We couldn’t have made the day as special without help from sponsors. Thanks to Eat local Pizza for the amazing pizza, Bay Village Coffee for the coffee, and to Vince Mirabelli for sponsoring the food.

“Thanks to NetNewsLedger for covering the event as well as to Rick from Wawatay News for attending.

“As one of the team who helped to make this happen, I want to thank everyone and hope anyone I didn’t thank directly realize that their help, efforts and support have helped me in so many ways as I continue to grow and learn in our loving city of Thunder Bay.”