Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to support Motion No. 42 and follow in the footsteps of my colleague, the member for Edmonton Griesbach, who spoke in the first hour of debate very eloquently.
I want to remind members that Motion No. 42 reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the contributions that Hindu Canadians have made to the socio-economic development of Canada, and their services to the Canadian society, the richness of Hindu Heritage and its vast contribution to the world of arts and science, astronomy to medicine, and its culture and traditions and the importance of educating and reflecting upon it for our future generations in Canada by declaring November, every year, Hindu Heritage Month.
I want to start off by addressing my constituents in New Westminster—Burnaby and the important Hindu temples that are found in Burnaby, which has one of the largest Hindu temples in all of Canada.
The Hindu Cultural Society and Community Centre of B.C. is a remarkable temple that is found on Marine Drive. It has many celebrations and invites the entire community. It is very much a foundation stone in our community.
The Arul Migu Thurkadevi Hindu Society is a Tamil-speaking Hindu temple on Edmonds Street in Burnaby. I can tell members that for those who participate in its annual chariot festival, which goes along Edmonds Street and through the Edmonds area of Burnaby, it is a truly extraordinary manifestation of the strength of the Hindu faith in Canada.
Finally, I want to give a shout-out to the ISKCON in Burnaby, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. I attended its Krishna Janmashtami just a few weeks ago, and it was quite extraordinary. There were over 30,000 people there, many of them my constituents and many of them constituents of the NDP leader, the member for Burnaby South. It was a warm summer evening, and the celebration for the commemoration of Janmashtami went late into the night and even into the early morning hours. Every one of the 30,000 present had the opportunity to eat a vegetarian meal. There was entertainment and, of course, worship in the ISKCON temple. It was quite an extraordinary event, and I think among both the Hindus and non-Hindus who attended there was a sense of solidarity and peace that was truly exceptional. It is an incredible addition to our community.
I mention this because in those of the Hindu faith across the country, half a million Canadians, we see that type of contribution to communities, provinces and indeed to the entire country, which is why this motion to put in place a Hindu heritage month is so important. I congratulate the member for Nepean for bringing it forward.
When we have half a million Canadians make that type of contribution each and every day right across the country, it is important for this Parliament to acknowledge it and underscore it. I am delighted, along with my NDP colleagues, to support this very important motion, and we hope that it will pass with the backing of all members of Parliament.
I thank the member for Nepean for bringing this motion forward, and I also want to thank him for the discussions we have had, which do touch on the Hindu faith, regarding my bill, Bill C-229, on the banning of Nazi symbols in this country. I want to briefly touch on this, because just as it is important that we highlight the important contributions of Canadians of the Hindu faith right across the length and breadth of this country, we cannot ignore the fact that there is an increase in hate, racism and things that we thought we had gotten beyond in Canada. A lot of this is provoked from outside of the country, as we have seen far-right organizations in the United States and Europe that are trying to ignite hatred, and it is important to curtail that. We also saw it in the recent convoy with the expressions of hate that we need to push back against.
My bill to ban Nazi emblems and Nazi symbols was put forward in the House, as we know, a few months ago. The member for Nepean and many members of the Hindu community stepped forward to say that it is important that we not talk about the swastika as anything more than an important symbol of Hindu faith. This is an important point to make, that the swastika is a profoundly reverent symbol of the Hindu faith and should be treated as such.
I have undertaken to amend my bill to eliminate that reference so that we speak only about Nazi symbols when we talk about the banning of these symbols of hate. That is perhaps why it is more important than ever that we underscore the important contribution of Canadians of the Hindu faith in putting forward and adopting this motion to adopt a Hindu heritage month.
Because we are seeing this increased manifestation of hate, we need to counter it. This is one very effective way that we can do that. We, as members of Parliament, hopefully, all joining our voices together, can move to adopt this motion to put in place a Hindu heritage month for the month of November. This is an important way of pushing back against the signs we have all seen, which are profoundly disturbing, of a rise in hate often triggered from outside our country.
I mentioned earlier Janmashtami and the 30,000 people coming out at ISKCON to celebrate this important Hindu festival. I mentioned the chariot festival at the Arul Migu Thurkadevi Hindu Society on Edmonds Street.
I think it is important to note that, in New Westminster—Burnaby, we have a profound contributions from those of the Hindu faith right across the length and breadth of our riding, and that, in all of those circumstances, these incredible festivities of peace, serenity and celebration of the Hindu faith, there have never been any incidents. There is a profound support in the community for these very significant festivals.
This is something that I appreciate enormously about New Westminster—Burnaby. I know that I have talked before about New Westminster—Burnaby. It is the most diverse riding in the entire country. Over 150 languages are spoken there. People come from all of the four corners of this planet to join on the traditional territory of the Qayqayt first nation and the Halkomelem- and Squamish-speaking Coast Salish peoples.
There they have found a home in which everyone gets along together. One hundred and fifty different languages support components of every major faith around the world and all of these people get together in harmony. It is something that we treasure in our community.
When we talk about the Hindu community, there, as well, we know of many dozens of languages that come from those of the Hindu faith themselves. I had, in my younger years, the chance to travel from New Delhi down to Kanyakumari in a third-class train across India. I spent a couple of months travelling throughout India and saw, first-hand, the importance and relevance of the Hindu faith there in its birth place, and its remarkable contribution right across the length and breadth of India, the incredible diversity of so many different languages.
Well, that is replicated in New Westminster—Burnaby. That is why it is so important to underscore the important contributions of half a million Canadians of the Hindu faith, and to do that, hopefully, as soon as possible.
I sincerely hope, as well, that this initiative from the member for Nepean will be adopted unanimously in the House. I hope that will happen soon.