Mr. Speaker, I take pride in rising in the House of Commons today to acknowledge and congratulate Mr. Stephen Ruf, the founding father of the Niagara Folk Arts Festival.
The festival is the oldest cultural festival in the province of Ontario and opened its 36th annual edition on Saturday, May 14.
Stephen Ruf's early years certainly shaped the man that he is today. During the second world war he lived in the Freiburg orphanage and saw first-hand the ugliness of racial and cultural discrimination. After immigrating to Canada and settling in the Niagara region, he sought a way to foster and showcase multiculturalism and the Folk Arts Festival was born in May 1969 and is still going strong today.
During the next two weeks, visitors can attend many open houses, allowing them to get an indepth appreciation of the customs and traditions of the various ethnic groups in the Niagara region.
Stephen Ruf's vision of multiculturalism is to be commended. On behalf of the people of St. Catharines and the people of Canada, I thank him for his 36 years of dedication to this wonderful event.