Canada recognizes Tibetan New Year

February 26th, 2009 - 10:17 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Feb 26 (IANS) In yet another gesture of goodwill towards the Dalai Lama which could be perceived as an affront by the Chinese, Canada Wednesday recognized the Tibetan New Year of Losar.
China had vehemently protested when the Conservative government of Canada honoured the Tibetan spiritual leader with the nation’s honorary citizenship - a rare honour conferred only on a few leaders - two years ago.

In a statement Wednesday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, said, “Today marks the first day of 2136, the Year of the Earth Ox, on the Tibetan calendar.”

On this occasion, he said, “I offer my best wishes to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as the Tibetan community on this day. A year and a half ago, I had the privilege of meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Ottawa.”

For the Tibetan people, he said, “Losar is a time for renewal and purification, a time for gathering with family, friends and the larger community.

“For all Canadians, Losar provides an excellent opportunity to think about the tremendous contributions that members of the Tibetan community have made to this country’s rich and diverse heritage.”

With the Tibetan community around the world cancelling celebrations of the new year in memory of over 200 people killed in Tibet during protests last year, the minister said: “I fully understand the desire for a more reflective, personal Losar observance.

“I hope the new year brings peace to you all, preserves your optimism and nurtures hope for the future.”

There is a small but very active Tibetan community in Canada, mostly in the Toronto-Ottawa area.

The current Canadian Tory government has been very vocal in its support of the Tibetan struggle against the Chinese, leading to periodic strains in their relations. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also didn’t participate in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics last year.

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