Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 12

Sunday, June 26, 2011
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

International Indian Film Academy Awards

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise before you today to speak about our country, which has once again shown the world the true meaning of multiculturalism. Yesterday evening, over 800 million people from around the world gathered in front of their televisions and tuned in to the twelfth annual International Indian Film Academy Awards show, which made its North American debut in Toronto.

This award show brought over 40,000 visitors to Toronto and pumped roughly $30 million into the city’s economy. More important, it was an opportunity for Canada to appear on the global stage and show the world just how multicultural our country is.

Honourable senators, for all of those who celebrated the IIFA awards ceremony yesterday evening, it did not matter if one was Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Punjabi, Christian or Jewish, nor did it matter if one’s family was from India, Pakistan or any other country. All came together to celebrate the awards. This is because we were all more concerned about what brought us together and less concerned about the insignificant differences that often set us apart. The Indian Film Academy often brings people together when they are divided.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who worked diligently to bring the award show to Toronto, addressed the packed Rogers Stadium and the millions of viewers at home, emphasizing all that unites us when he stated:

Some things are just universal, like a good story.

It doesn’t matter if you grew up in Brampton or Bangalore, Mississauga or Mumbai, you grew up hearing stories and sharing stories.

One story that captured the spotlight yesterday evening was the film entitled “My Name is Khan.” This is the story of a Muslim man named Rizvan Khan who happily settles in San Francisco, marrying a Hindu woman and opening a small business, all the while suffering with Asperger’s syndrome.

However, after September 11, Rizvan’s entire life is turned upside down, for he loses his family and his job, all because those around him change their attitude toward Muslims. Rizvan, who does not understand why Islam is being blamed for the acts conducted by a select few extremists, embarks on a journey across America to spread the message that, although his last name is Khan, he is not a terrorist.

Honourable senators, the fact that a film that spread such an important yet controversial message received high honours yesterday evening speaks volumes. To me it represents a shift in attitudes and an important step toward understanding in Canada and around the world.

Honourable senators, I urge you to join me in congratulating all of those who made the twelfth annual International Indian Film Academy Awards in Toronto a success. Once again we have shown the world the importance of embracing multiculturalism.