L'ASSOCIATION DES MUSULMANS PROGRESSITES DU CANADA

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17TH ANNUAL EID-UL-ADHA - NOVEMBER 16, 2011

His Excellency, David Jacobsen, Ambassador for the United States of America to Canada was the Award recipient at these celebrations which were held at the Ottawa Sheraton Hotel because of the closure of West Block for renovations.

As the Ambassador was out of the country for an important leaders meeting in Hawaii, Mrs. Julie Jacobson received the award on behalf of her husband.  In addition to the plaque and Sandulak's polar bear sculpture, the flag from the East Block of the Parliament Buildings was also presented. 

His Excellency was recognized for " reaching out to Canadians from coast to coast to coast to strengthen  relationships between our two countries and your passion to serve your country". 

In his citation Mr. Vickers, Sergeant-at-Arms, House of Commons, not only spoke about the contributions and achievements of His Excellency David Jacobson, but also the important work that Mrs. Julie Jacobson is doing for underprivileged children.  She reads to them and brings them home and takes extra time to be with them.  He said that H. E. David Jacobson is a remarkable man and an extraordinary friend of the Muslim community.  He also said that the Ambassador credits everything that he does to his wife Julie and that we should be honouring her as well today. 

The Association was delighted to have Ms. Farah Pandith, Special Representative to Muslim Countries, U.S. Department of State, as the Keynote Speaker.  She was introduced by Mr. James Nealon, Deputy Chief of Mission from the  US Embassy.  He said that Ms. Pandith was appointed in June 2009 by Mrs. Hillary Clinton , soon after she took office as Secretary of State.  This post was created to reach out to the Muslims.  Previously, Ms. Pandith  was working on reaching out to the Muslims in Europe.  He also said that when asked if she would like to be the Keynote Speaker for tonight, she changed her plans and came to be part of the Eid celebrations.

Ms. Farah Pandith said that it was a special celebration for her to be at this event as Canada is the 50th country she has visited in 23 months.  She said she felt a lot of warmth from everyone since she entered the room.  She said that her position was created to reach out to all Muslims in a way that had not been done before and in keeping with President Obama's vision which he spoke about in his inaugural speech as well as in his speeches in Turkey and Cairo, the Muslim countries he visited soon after taking office.

Ms. Pandith went on to say that there are 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide and 60-70% of them are under 30 years old.  She said that it is very important to listen to what these young people have to say and to harness their energy and their ideas for moving forward for a peaceful and equitable world.  As she has traveled and listened, she has noticed that there is the question of identity for a lot of young Muslims and that there are many shrill voices that are telling them they do not belong.  Hence it is important for her and for others who are working towards the same goal of creating a better world to listen to the young and in her experiences she has found that some of the best ideas are coming from the young.  She said that Muslims are now part of the West and there is no "Them and Us" - that there is only "Us".

She also said that the young comprise 1/4th of the world population and have access to each other as never before through the social media.  She urged everyone to contribute in any way they can - an hour, a day, several hours towards the common goal of a better world through tolerance and understanding.  She said that the International Day for Tolerance is being celebrated today worldwide yet there is an increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

There were several students and recent graduates from the universities and Ms. Pandith spent quite sometime talking to them.  Almost everyone in the room wanted to talk to her and tell her how moved they were by her speech.

She also said that the Association of Progressive Muslims is to be commended for the work they do, especially for their objective of providing guidance and training for the young to prepare them for current and future challenges.  

Mr. Charles Coffey, O. C., and Mr. Goldy Hyder were the emcees for the evening.  Introducing Mobeen Khaja, Mr. Coffey said that Mobeen had helped him understand Islam better and that he has reached out to Jews, Christians and other faiths, bringing them together and that nobody he knows does it better than Mobeen.

In his welcome address, Mobeen congratulated Ambassador Jacobson and thanked Mrs. Jacobson for accepting the award on his behalf.  He spoke about the letter that H. E. Jacobson wrote to congratulate him on receiving the Order of Ontario, and in which he also said "We at the Embassy look forward to partnering with you and the Association on future programs wherein we work together to make our world a better place for all" 

 Mayor Jim Watson congratulated H. E. David Jacobson and Mrs. Julie Jacobson for the work they are doing.  He also congratulated Mobeen Khaja for having earned the Order of Ontario.  He said that Canadians have often followed great ideas from the United States and the celebration of Eids in the Federal and Provincial legislatures that Mobeen was inspired to start 17 years ago  after reading the article by Mrs. Hillary Clinton about the Iftar dinner she and President Bill Clinton held at the White House has brought together people from many different faiths to understand each other and celebrate special occasions together.  

Members of Parliament and Ambassadors and High Commissioners from several countries attended.  

Mr. Craig Kennedy, Senior Protocol & Visits Analyst, RCMP, performed the National Anthem for both countries in English and French. He stood out in his red uniform and was very popular as many of the attendees wanted a picture with him.

A video of President Obama's speech at the 2011 Iftar dinner that  he hosted at the White House in the month of Ramadan was shown.  

Platinum Tables were sponsored by: (1) MR. CHARLES S. COFFEY, O. C.      (2) HILL & KNOWLTON CANADA       (3) RBC FINANCIAL GROUP      (4) TDBG -TD BANK GROUP

Gold Tables by:   (1) MR. CHARLES S. COFFEY, O. C.      (2) EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN      (3)  HIS HIGHNESS PRINCE AGA KHAN SHIA IMAMI ISMAILI COUNCIL FOR OTTAWA       (4)  DR. ROSEANN O’REILLY RUNTE, PRESIDENT AND VICE CHANCELLOR CARLETON UNIVERSITY.

Silver Tables by:  (1) MR. ALTAF SOORTY      (2) COUNCIL OF TURKISH CANADIANS       (3) FEDERATION OF CHINESE CANADIANS IN MARKHAM      (4) TRANSGLOBAL SYSTEMS OF CANADA INC.  

Should you wish to read Ambassador David Jacobson's blog, please click on link below: 

http://blogs.ottawa.usembassy.gov/ambassador/index.php/2011/08/23/august-11-2011-ottawa  

For Ms. Pandith's blog, please click on link below:

http://blogs.ottawa.usembassy.gov/ambassador/index.php/2011/12/13/december-13-2011-ottawa

(L - R) Mobeen Khaja, Julie Jacobson, Kevin Vickers, Mayor Jim Watson Award Presentation to Julie Jacobson by APMC's Board Members
Flag presentation to Mrs. Julie Jacobson. Sandulak's polar bear sculpture was presented to Ms. Farah Pandith
Mayor Jim Watson talking to Mrs. Nealon, wife of Deputy Head of Mission for U.S.A. John McKay, MPP  (on right) with Council of Turkish Canadians
Ms. Pandith with students from universities of Ottawa and Carleton  (R-L) Ms. Pandith, Ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Turkey
Ms. Ahlam Abdillahi performing the opening dua Ms. Pandith, Craig Kennedy, Mobeen Khaja, Crystal Meriwether (US Embassy)

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