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Senators celebrate Asian Heritage Month
Senators celebrate Asian Heritage Month
May 15, 2017

Sitar music, spring rolls and saris were in abundance as Canada’s senators celebrated the diversity that makes Canada special at their annual Asian Heritage Month reception. The Ottawa event, held Monday, May 8, 2017 showcased the cultures of China, India, Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

More than 450 people watched singers and dancers perform dances and songs from the six participating countries. Volunteers served delicious foods from the various cultural communities.

The Senate’s Asian Heritage Month reception was hosted by the 10 senators of Asian descent: senators Salma Ataullahjan, Lillian Eva Dyck, Tobias C. Enverga Jr., Mobina S. B. Jaffer, Yonah Martin, Sabi Marwah, Thanh Hai Ngo, Victor Oh, Ratna Omidvar and Yuen Pau Woo.


Senators of Asian descent in the Red Chamber make up nearly 10% of its members.

It was fitting that senators hosted Asian Heritage Month to pay tribute to Canada’s diversity. Since it was created 150 years ago, the Senate has had a unique role representing Canada’s regional, linguistic, religious and ethnic minorities.

Asian Heritage Month is especially significant to Canada’s senators because it was the Hon. Vivienne Poy, the first Canadian of Asian descent appointed to the Senate, who proposed designating May as Asian Heritage Month in 2001.

The Asian Heritage Month celebration featured a Twitter lounge where guests tweeted photos and videos from the event, sharing their pride in their own Asian heritage or expressing their appreciation for Canada’s diversity.

Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer serves her homemade gulab jamun at the India food booth during the Senate of Canada’s Asian Heritage Month reception on Monday, May 8, 2017 at the Sir John A. Macdonald building in Ottawa.

Senator Jim Munson, left, and Senator Victor Oh. Senator Oh is the first senator from Singapore of Chinese descent in Canadian history.

Dancer Ananya Mallubhotla performs a fusion dance entitled Mahaganapathim: An offering to Lord Ganesha. She performed with her sister Mahanya Mallubhotla, not shown.

Senator Thanh Hai Ngo, right, and Chung-chen Kung, Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada. Senator Ngo is the first Vietnamese-Canadian to be appointed to the Senate of Canada.

Senator Yonah Martin, right, and chief of staff Grace Seear. Senator Martin is the first parliamentarian of Korean descent in Canadian history.

Dancers from the Haiyan Dance Studio perform a blend of Chinese classical and contemporary dance, meant to depict China’s breathtaking scenery.

Members of the Korean K-pop dance group Salja perform “Never Ever.”

Senator Salma Ataullahjan, centre, poses with Samah Syed, left, and Mashooda Lubna Syed. Senator Ataullahjan is the first senator of Pakistani descent in Canadian history.

Dancer Grace Haiyan Lu, the founder of the Haiyan Dance Studio in Ottawa, incorporates martial arts into a contemporary Chinese dance for the audience at the Senate’s Asian Heritage Month reception.

Teuku Faizasyah, Indonesia’s ambassador to Canada, second from left, and wife Andis Faizasyah, left, with senators Jane Cordy and Jim Munson.

Korean War veterans JP St. Auban‎, left, and Bill Black, right, mingle with Young-Hae Lee. A handful of veterans were special guests at the event.

Senator Jane Cordy and Senator Percy Downe honoured the accomplishments of Asian Canadians at the Senate’s Asian Heritage Month reception.

Senator Yuen Pau Woo, centre, is joined by Peter Lee, left and parliamentary affairs advisor Andrew Miller, right. Senator Woo is from Singapore, but is of Chinese heritage.

A group of dancers representing Pakistan’s culture performs a Bhangra dance from the Punjabi region of the country.

Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer, second from left, and Senator Ratna Omidvar, centre, pose with dancers Mahanya Mallubhotla, left, and Ananya Mallubhotla, second right. The sisters performed an Indian dance in tribute to Lord Ganesha. They are joined by Senate Page, Prabhroop Chawla, right.

Senator Nancy Hartling, centre, tries out a Twitter mirror with her husband at the Senate’s Asian Heritage Month reception.

Senator David Wells visits the Filipino table at the Senate’s Asian Heritage Month reception. The Philippines was one of six Asian countries to showcase its culture, cuisine and customs, along with China, India, Korea, Pakistan and Vietnam.

Dindo Moreno, left, Angelique Maiquez, and Christian Ocampo, sing “The Prayer” in Tagalog and English, in tribute to the Philippines at the Senate’s Asian Heritage Month reception.

The fourth performance of the night represented the Vietnamese heritage of Senator Thanh Hai Ngo. Chi-Lan Nguyen, Kim-Xuan Auprix, Amy Tran, Quyen Nguyen, Jovana Yap and Tiffany Dang performed a dance entitled Mùa Xuân.