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Multiculturalism exemplified in HRM Lebanese Community

I recently attended events honouring the inauguration of November as Lebanese Heritage Month. While

learning about the Lebanese immigration story, I had an opportunity to observe the inner workings of multiculturalism and its positive impact on HRM.

Wadih Fares, President/CEO of the WM Fares Group and Honorary Lebanese Consul, hosted an event celebrating Lebanese Independence Day. Following the raising of the Lebanese flag, heartfelt versions of the Canadian and Lebanese national anthems were sung in English, French and Arabic. The attachment to their native and adoptive countries reflected a genuine sense of patriotism and civic pride that are never taken for granted. “We are 100% Canadian and 100% Lebanese,” I heard from many in attendance.

Mr. Fares spoke eloquently of his gratitude to Canada and Halifax for opening their doors. After his escape from civil war, he arrived in Halifax with the bare necessities. I expect it took more than a welcome mat for the teenage Wadih to climb from such challenging circumstances to the top level of HRM real estate development. Mr. Fares’ story reflects that of other young Lebanese who settled in Halifax and are part of HRM’s transformation.

The Lebanese success story extends beyond economics. Qualities that value engagement in a multicultural society contribute equally to HRM.

The Lebanese community is involved in multiple levels of society from cultural events to business and public service. Their events are well attended and the ambiance is always warm and engaging even for non-Lebanese. If you embrace the Lebanese community, they will embrace you back.

The sense of family – micro and macro – drives a desire to support not only the Lebanese community but also the broader community. A tireless volunteer, Mr. Fares was asked how he is able to run a successful business and serve on numerous boards, committees and community groups. “I also wonder how I do it,” he responded with a smile.

Immigration and multiculturalism -- it is a symbiotic relationship that responds to humanitarian issues while contributing to a greater societal good. The Lebanese story is a shining example of how this relationship benefits HRM.

Diane Kenny

Présidente, Alliance française Halifax

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