Remarks by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto
July 22, 2017
Thank you. Hello, everyone, kemccho!
I first want to thank His Divine Holiness for welcoming me so warmly today. I would also like to thank President Sachdev and all the volunteers for organizing this incredible event and bringing such an amazing community together tonight. I’m also happy to be joined by my colleague and friend who introduced me, Navdeep Bains. Since the beginning of our mandate, Navdeep has been doing an amazing job as Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, making a real difference in the lives of Canadians across the country, and I’m glad he could join us here tonight. I’m also proud to say that Minister Bains has continued to work hard to strengthen an already strong friendship with India, with Canada. I would also like to acknowledge our local MP, Minister Kirsty Duncan, who not only represents the riding that this beautiful mandir is in, but is also a friend of so many here today. Thank you, Kirsty, for being here.
My friends, it’s truly a pleasure and an honour to join you in celebrating ten years of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir as well as the vibrant community that made this possible. Built according to the principles outlined in ancient Hindu scripture, it is, without a doubt, one of Canada’s architectural wonders, with its intricate stone and wood carvings. How remarkable and fitting it is that when visitors come to Canada through our largest airport, Pearson International, one of the very first Canadian sites people see off Highway 427 is this mandir. I, for one, could not be more proud.
Each year, visitors are always stunned to learn that no steel was used in its construction and it took only 18 months to build, and you made this mandir possible. It was your donations, your hard work, the vision of late Pramukh Swami Maharaj and your determination that build this stunning temple for worshippers and visitors alike. But, the mandir is more than just an architectural masterpiece, it is also a place for community. As Gujarat’s favorite son, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” The congregation...the congregation here truly embodies the principles of openness, and peace.
For the past ten years, the mandir has spearheaded initiatives that help those in need, for both Hindus and non-Hindus; annual walkathons, organized lectures, charity galas, you have touched the lives of countless Torontonians through charity, and we thank you for it. Your generosity, kindness, and solidarity are shaping Canada into a place we are all even prouder to call home.
2017 is an important year for Canada. As you know, we just celebrated the 150th anniversary of confederation. And this is a perfect time to stop and reflect on our path over the past 150 years. Today, Canada is a country that is open to the world, that finds strength in its diversity and that is proud of its multicultural heritage.
When I look around me today, I see that I’m in a place that perfectly represents the modern diverse Canada that we are all so proud to be part of. A Canada where all Canadians, no matter their religion, the colour of their skin, or their native tongue, are at home. Canadians know that we are strong, not in spite of our differences, but because of those differences.
We have a lot to celebrate this year, besides the 150th anniversary of confederation, and the 10th anniversary of the mandir, we’re also celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Now, I’d like also to take a moment to recognize the importance of the bond between Canada and India.
The more than one million Canadians of Indian origin have made countless contributions to our national fabric, and the relationship between our two countries is truly a special one. It’s a relationship our government and our ministers both deeply value and actively cultivate. Not so long ago, our infrastructure minister, Minister Sohi attended the vibrant Gujarat conference, and…and just as we are always wowed by the architecture of the BAPS mandir here in Toronto, he made a point to tell me that Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi is a must-visit.
I, for myself, have great memories of my many meetings with Prime Minister Modi, but especially…but of all the times I met him, the one that I was always most touched by, was the time he grabbed my daughter Ella Grace by her ears.
I hope all Canadians can find the time to come visit this magnificent site and learn more about the rich history of the Hindu community, but learn more about the rich history of the Hindu community right here in Canada at home.
I want to thank you all for inviting me here today; Your Holiness, Mahant Swami Maharaj, thank you for joining us here in Canada to celebrate the tenth anniversary, and I know you will continue to enjoy your visit, because we are so touched and honoured that you joined us today. Thank you.
Thank you, everyone. Jai Swaminarayan.