THOMAS S. SARAS
President of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada
AT THE AWARDS CEREMONY NOVEMEBER 4TH, 2016
Your Honour, Honourable members of the Federal Parliament, members of Police Services, members of the judiciary, members of the academic community, distinguished honorees, dear colleagues, publishers, editors and journalists,
members of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, ladies and gentlemen attending today’s ceremony,
Please allow me to welcome you all and, at the same time, to thank you for the great honor of your presence.
Today’s ceremony marks the fourth decade of recognitions of this organization and the twelve time that your office gratefully hosted in these premises, and I want to express our gratitude, to you and to your staff, your Honour, for this great privilege our organization is enjoying over the years.
Today’s celebration is the recognition of the considerable contributions members of our communities made, to our society and our democracy as well as to the multicultural fabric of our society as a community of communities. It is therefore that today, we are celebrating the best of our cultures as well as honoring the men and women who dedicated themselves in the service and dignity of our fellow men.
For the political observer of our society, it is clear that we are a nation of many nationalities, races, religions, bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality.
Tonight, we are recognizing two groups of citizens.
One is a number of journalists, publishers or editors of newspapers, magazines or electronic media, as they, with their outstanding efforts, managed to bring change and progress in our society, in order to prevent any form of oppression, injustice or hatred, which can harm the peaceful coexistence of our vibrant multicultural communities and, therefore, our democracy.
There is some criticism, these days, mainly by members of our mainstream-industry that the ethnic press and media are useless and, therefore, there is no reason for their existence. What a misconception really!
Your Honour, as you know, the citizens of a democratic state are entitled to be informed of the essential facts of their government. The government in a democracy also must continuously strive to have an enlightened and well informed public. Thus, its understanding and, some time, its criticism become a real benefit to the government. In such case, it is the ethnic press and media and also some small independently owned main-stream media which hold the principals of a free and uncontrolled dissemination of information to and in the public interest.
And from this perceptive, I would like, on behalf of the 800 members of the National Press and Media Council of Canada, to thank and congratulate them for their leadership and vision for a great, unified, progressive and liberal Canada, where every citizen feels as being equal and included. But in order to be successful in this goal, we should educate our citizens to know exactly the laws and decisions of our government. Our rich cultural diversity in our civilized state is created from the wisdom to choose our ways to achieve without hurting one’s neighbors. Central to this is the role of free and objective media.
The second group we are celebrating today, is the one of responsible civil servants, writers, poets, philanthropists, as they are the backbone of our civil society by having distinguished themselves in their field of work. Classical and accepted theory always viewed democracy as a set of institutions, which promoted and depended upon the full rational development of the individual and organizations in every field of social, cultural and academic endeavor. We honor those individuals who have shown real leadership in serving and cementing the relationship of all communities, mainstream or not.
some 2,441 years ago, in the development of human civilization, one great mind of the ancient world and of all time, the Athenian philosopher and playwright Sophocles in his masterpiece “Antigone” wrote about the Man:
“Numberless are the world’s wonders but none
more wonderful than man;
the storm gray sea yields to his prows, the huge crests bear him high;
Earth, holy and inexhaustible, is graven
With shining furrows where his ploughs have gone
Year after year, the timeless labour of stallions.
He fashions to his good use;
Statecraft is his, and his the skill that deflects, the arrows of snow,
The spears of winter rain: from every wind.
He has made himself secure from all but one:
In the late wind of death he cannot stand.
O clear intelligence, force beyond all measure!
O fate of man, working both good and evil!
When the laws are broken, what of his city then?
Never may the anarchic man find rest at my hearth,
Never he it said that my thoughts are his thoughts.
And this is exactly the message of today’s ceremony.
Our honorees, the publishers, the producers of Magazines, News Papers as Hermie Garcia, Kathy L. Lin from Toronto, Claes Fredriksson from Vancouver BC, Kyra Phong Lu, from Saskatchewan, Professor Hong-Helen Wang from Manitoba and the Electronic Media, as Malgorzata Bonikowska in radio, and Raynier Maharaj in the new digital systems, and civil servants as retired Chief Armand La Barge, the inspector Ricky Veerappan, the Justice of the peace Delano-Valasquez Europa, professors Alex Pattakos, Elaine Dundon, Vadim Mankauskas, Chris Adamopoulos, Luke Hezlyn Stocking, all of them stand tall before us in their outstanding and distinguished efforts to bring change and progress in our society that makes Canada a land of justice, inclusiveness and equality.
It is therefore that today we salute their contributions and we recognize their struggles for the respect of human rights and the dignity of every individual, each one of them from his own perspective. They, men and women, are the real heroes of our diverse community struggling to serve mankind in their daily deeds for equal opportunities, social justice, peace, co-operation and understanding among all of us.
And in closing, please allow me, for one more time, to express our gratitude for the great honour of your hospitality and the help and cooperation of your staff.
Thank you all.