Multicultural Norfolk is celebrated as association marks 40 years

Multiple ethnic heritages were represented at the unveiling of a plaque honouring the Multicultural Heritage Association of Norfolk on Saturday in front of the Delhi Public Library. Susan Gamble/Postmedia Network

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The cultural diversity of the Delhi area was celebrated last Saturday with the unveiling of a new plaque outside the public library.

Festooned with numerous national flags, the plaque highlights both the 40th anniversary of the Multicultural Heritage Association of Norfolk and a century of immigrants who chose to make Norfolk their home, bringing their cultural traditions with them.

“In 1978, a small group of immigrant Canadians realized Norfolk County has one of the richest multicultural heritages in the country,” said emcee Mary Jane Kekes at the unveiling, which featured a piper and more than a dozen local residents, many dressed in their cultural outfits and carrying flags from their home countries.

Kekes said at the time there were four ethnic halls in Delhi, three ethnic churches and several other groups that gathered to support each other.

“There was a need for an organization to bring together people of different ethnic backgrounds to share their customs and heritages,” she said, noting that the group was – and still is – made up of volunteers, many of whom immigrated, choosing Canada as their new home.

“Canada has been enriched by their colourful heritages and customs.”

MP Diane Finley, who attended the unveiling, said Norfolk featured 8,600 people who speak more than one language and those speakers cover 57 different languages.

“We have tremendous diversity,” Finley said.

“I thank the association for existing and putting this together. All cultural groups work hard to preserve their culture and share that culture with the rest of us.”

Kekes said the location of the new plaque, right in front of the library on Main Street, is an ideal and fully accessible spot and, she noted, the library itself is an excellent place to explore other cultures.

The facility has books in languages such as French, Spanish, Hungarian and Dutch and features two revolving display cases that highlight a different local culture.

“Currently we have a Hungarian display by Judy Schaeffer and a Lithuanian display by Dalia Norkus,” said Kekes. “Every month or two we try to change them.”

The mural or plaque was unveiled by Elizabeth Gazda, who is of Polish descent, and Ophelia Carroll who is from the Philippines.

Deacon Andy Alway from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs and Rev. Ian Shaw, retired from St. Paul’s Presbyterian, blessed the new plaque.

Alway gave thanks for the courageous immigrants of the past who helped create a democratic country where all voices can be heard and Shaw noted that while many people left their countries due to an inability to get along, in Canada, people have learned to pull together.

The event ended with a mini-feast of pastries and treats from the various ethnic groups, including a bowl of Tim Hortons Timbits.

 

 

 

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