Celebrating Pakistani Independence Day at Park Athena

Local Pakistani celebrated the independence of their mother country—City Councilor Mary Deros and Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli attend … as well as so many other prominent members of the community & government

Like so many events this summer, the numbers of people that were at this event certainly paled in comparison to the numbers of the past. Yet people still came to honor the event that marked Pakistan’s 74 years of Independence from Britain—essentially known as the British Raj, or British Rule.

City councilor Josue Corvil speaks on about the importance of the event

There were about forty people in all—give or take a few—and representatives of the government were also on hand to show support and celebrate this most joyous day for members of the Pakistani Community in Park Extension. The event was held at Park Athena on Jean Talon Street between L’Epee and Bloomfield.

Patriotism and not just for Pakistan

Pakistani pride … local men raise the Pakistani flag, proud of its 74 years of Independence

Songs were sung, food was served in the form of Chicken Biryani and a sense of patriotism was certainly in the air, and not just patriotism for Pakistan, but patriotism for Canada and Quebec as well. Aside from the forty people clustered around the three flags of Pakistan, Canada and Quebec, others sat on benches strewn about the park and were enamored and drawn to what was occurring in the park. A couple of gentlemen watched from afar, and as I was taking pictures for the piece, they wondered what was going on. I took the opportunity to tell them as now I was in the know, so to speak, and I actually found myself being quite proud and happy to b able to spread the word of what I’d just learned about. They, for their part, were in awe it seemed, and even though they that were not Pakistani … a feeling of admiration seemed to fill them, that these men and women and children would gather for the sake of their country, the country they hailed from, and for them to be able to celebrate that in their adoptive country was a sight indeed.

Others attended, like Andres Fontecilla and Josue Corvil

The meaning behind the event celebrated

It commemorates the day when Pakistan became an independent and sovereign state after the aforementioned British Rule or Raj. The official date when this occurred is August 14th, 1947. Pakistan, as it is known today became independent because of the Pakistan Movement, where the ultimate goal for an independent Muslim state. Responsible for this action: the All-India Muslim League, which was led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Officially, the Indian Independence Act 1947, where the British gave Independence to Pakistan.

A show of support by local government

Present at the event were of course City councilor Mary Deros, Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli, city councilor Josué Corvil, Andres Fontecilla and of course many others.

Mary Deros had this to say in the speech she made at the event: “I congratulate you all … for being here, for celebrating this important day in history. In Canada, all of us, we are immigrants. We are fortunate to be permitted to celebrate our history, our religion, our language. And that it continues to be celebrated with our young. It’s important that our history and who we are gets passed on to the youth.” She stressed the importance of wearing masks in events and out in public in general. She also passed out free masks to locals who were in need while at the event, pulling them out of the bag she had on her. I had a chance to sit with her and she was chagrined that they would not be able to do what they had done every year, but albeit limited, she was happy that they were able to celebrate such an important day regardless.

She has been there since the beginning, since 98-99, celebrating and standing with the locals.

Locals gather to celebrate, Mary Deros attends as she has since the start (1998-99)

A dinner was held in the West Island where proper spacing was practiced, and Mary Deros was invited and did in fact attend. This was done because of the limitations brought on by Covid-19 for this year’s event.

Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli said in her speech: “It’s really nice to be here today. I know that because of Covid-19—you know—everybody’s life has changed, and the way we do things also has changed. But it’s not because that has happened that we have to feel that difference. You know community is community no matter what and what I feel is that during this pandemic actually it has brought community closer.”

In a small interview I conducted with Member of Parliament Andres Fontecilla, he said: “For me it’s an honor to take part in the national holiday of Pakistan and their independence—something we hope could happen here in Quebec—but I tell the Pakistani Community here in Quebec that I am proud to work for them.”