We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day early in Toronto-St. Paul’s!
Last Sunday, March 12th, we hosted our annual St. Paddy’s Day celebration at Fionn MacCool’s, and as always, it was a terrific time. Members of our community enjoyed delicious pub snacks, and drinks, and a spectacular Irish live band. Thank you to everyone who attended! I am already looking forward to next year!
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated more than any other national festival in the world, and is especially important to Canadians due to our large, vibrant Irish community.
Last week, my friend and colleague Seamus O’Regan rose in the House of Commons to deliver a moving speech about the important contributions that Irish immigrants have made to Canada. He reminded us all that the Irish confronted the same “contempt and vitriol that is levied at other immigrants today,” but also, that there were “Canadians who rose about the frank, blatant decades-long discrimination of the day and gave those immigrants a chance to become Canadians themselves.” That is what we should all celebrate today, and every day.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Statement in the House of Commons by Seamus O’Regan, MP (St. John’s South—Mount Pearl) Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, in 1847 the Dominion of Canada numbered some 1.5 million people. Yet, small as we were then, we welcomed some 100,000 Irish immigrants. Immigrants who were leaving a devastating famine behind them, fleeing terror and prosecution.
In 1847, the Irish were treated with the same contempt and vitriol that is levied at other immigrants today.
‘Ignorant, lazy,’ newspapers read. ‘Improvident, unthankful and as vicious as they are poor’. Fenians, Papists – here to impose their own religious laws on us all. Political parties were formed and fuelled for fear of them. Of us.
Some Irish forget that. I don’t.
But 38,000 Irish passed through Toronto in 1847. Toronto, then a city of only 20,000.
38,000. Taken in by the 20,000 already here.
That’s what I’ll remember this St. Patrick’s Day.
I’ll remember that, in 1847, there were enough – just enough – Canadians who rose about the frank, blatant decades-long discrimination of the day and gave those immigrants a chance to become Canadians themselves.
And I thank those Canadians for that chance.