Mr. Speaker, this might be the third or possibly even the fourth time I have had the opportunity to talk about a heritage week and heritage month. I, for one, truly believe in Canada's diversity, which, as our Prime Minister has often said, is one of our greatest strengths.
That is amplified when we attend Winnipeg during the summer months of Folklorama, where we see a cultural smorgasbord of sorts, of all different ethnic groups sharing their heritage with the broader community in a very real and tangible way. On that note, this is a very special year for Folklorama because it is the 50th anniversary. I want to recognize that and applaud all of those individuals who have made this one of the most successful multicultural and diversity events in North America. It has been truly an amazing effort by a lot of wonderful people and highlights just how diversified Canada really and truly is.
In terms of the motion that has been brought forward by my colleague across the way, it makes reference to the Mennonite community. It is a community that I am very familiar with. Although I might not be of Mennonite heritage, personally, at times I might question that because of my father and the engagement he had with the Mennonite community. He was a great consumer of many Mennonite products, in particular agricultural products over the years when I was fairly young and growing up. I have had the opportunity to also experience first-hand as an adult many of the exchanges that have taken place, again, based on commerce. A number of years back, in the 1990s, I was able to get a bit better sense of the Mennonite community, when I started to get engaged in the whole issue of leadership within political parties and reaching out and so forth.
I would like to share a few thoughts and then talk about diversity.
As the member indicated, the Mennonite community is fairly well dispersed in Canada, but I want to talk about the Manitoba Mennonite community. In and around the time of Confederation, we had Mennonites. Russian Mennonites who were in Ukraine came to Canada in and around the 1870 to 1875 era and settled in southern Manitoba. Interesting enough, we see that some of the healthiest communities today in rural Manitoba are found where our Mennonite community has been second to no other, in terms of the driving force of the economic and social development of that area of the province.
Obviously, the Mennonite community has grown considerably over the years and has had significant influence on all aspects of our society. One of the questions asked was in regard to the Mennonite heritage community and the fine work that it does as a non-profit agency. We continue to hear on an annual basis of the charitable works that are done from within our Mennonite community, again arguably second to no other.
Earlier I was talking about the issue of trade and I want to draw the connection. One of the first tours I had of a really large farm operation was on a Mennonite-run hog farm. I walked into a massive barn that had about 10,000 hogs in it and the first thing I saw was computers. The computers controlled the feedings, which ultimately controlled the weight and determined when a pig was ready to go to market.
By my using this as an example, members get an appreciation of what the member for Abbotsford was been referring to. The work ethic of the Mennonite community is truly amazing. In many ways, Mennonites have been pioneers in what we are today. I do not think we can really underestimate their contributions to Canada's diversity.
Our diversity continues to grow every day, as our heritage is enriched through immigration on a daily basis. However, on many different fronts, our Mennonite community has brought wonderful attributes to Canada's heritage.
On many occasions I have had the opportunity to have exchanges with members of the community. They have a very high sense of pride in their Mennonite heritage. It was nothing but an absolute delight. Whether in my riding of Winnipeg North, which may not have as high a concentration of Mennonites as in the Kildonan area, or in southern Manitoba, the community has definitely had an impact.
The member for Abbotsford was asked an important question by my colleague on why we recognized heritage weeks, months or days. I will attempt to answer that question in my own words.
We need to have an appreciation for one of Canada's greatest strengths, which is our diversity. By having these heritage days, weeks or months, we provide an opportunity for individuals, whether inside or outside the chamber, to appeal to the broader community to recognize or host a special event.
Let me give members three examples. Last fall, the House passed a motion to have a heritage month for our Filipino community in Canada, which occurs in the month of June. We also had a motion for Sikh heritage last fall, which I believe is currently in the Senate. That is to recognize Sikh heritage in the month of April. Today, we are talking about recognizing Mennonite heritage in the second week of September. Those three communities provide so much to our society.
As members of Parliament, we can encourage school boards, provincial levels of government or businesses in our communities to present awards and to do things that heighten awareness. I have always believed we should not ask people who become Canadian citizens to forget about their homelands. We, in fact, like to encourage them to use their home, their country and their grouping to grow Canada's heritage.
I will be hosting a heritage month. I will be giving out medallions. I will take a look at what role I might be able to play. Why? It is because the member for Abbotsford has taken the time to recognize a really important community and he wants to ensure there is a heightened sense of public awareness, public pride and individual pride in our communities. We are Canadian but we are Mennonite Canadians in many ways. We need to know our roots.
That is why I applaud the member for bringing this forward and I look forward to the ongoing debate.