Friendship dinner in Toronto celebrates intercultural dialogue

January 15, 2012, Sunday/ 16:58:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The seventh annual Dialogue and Friendship Night was held in Toronto on Sunday to celebrate the historic multiculturalism of Canada and its diverse immigrant community.

Sponsored by the Toronto International Dialogue Institute (IDI), the event saw hundreds of guests crowd into the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto. The Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Charles Sousa, called the event a chance to reflect on the progressive record of Canadian immigration policy and declare that in Canada there is “room for everyone.” In a speech quoted by the Anatolia news agency, Sousa recounted his own father's escape to Canada when he became a political dissident in 1953 under the reign of the notorious Portuguese dictator António Salazar, stating: “He escaped in hope of freedom. … He and other immigrants, in the spirit of cooperation, founded a strong and well-educated society.”

York University President Mamdouh Shoukri also spoke at the event, explaining his first journey as a student to Canada 40 years ago. An Egyptian-born engineer, Shoukri became in 2007 the first Muslim to be appointed as the permanent head of a Canadian university.

Head of IDI Toronto Fatih Yegül also praised the successes of immigrants in Canada and thanked the many participants for their help in the IDI's “Noah's Pudding” project, which aimed to bring together Canada's immigrants over bowls of the classic Turkish dessert. So far, IDI has hosted hundreds of Noah's Pudding events and fed Canada over 60,000 bowls of pudding, Yegül said, adding, “We hope there will be many thousands more.”

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