Ottawa, September 11, 2014 — The Honourable Jason Kenney issued the following statement to recognize Nayrouz:
“Today, Coptic Christians in Egypt and around the world celebrate the Feast of Nayrouz, marking the first day of the year on the ancient Coptic calendar.
“Its name translates as ‘Feast of the Rivers’ because Nayrouz originated as a day of thanksgiving for the rising of the waters of the Nile, providing irrigation for the agricultural lands along its banks.
“Nayrouz is an occasion for members of the Coptic Orthodox Church to celebrate their faith and to honour those who were persecuted and martyred for that faith during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, beginning in 284 AD. Even to this day, members of the Coptic community continue to face discrimination and threats to their safety in the Middle East.
“This year, we are joined by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II for the celebration of Nayrouz, while he is on his first visit to Canada. As a champion for peace and human dignity in the Middle East, his visit provides encouragement to all Canadian Coptic Christians.
“As Minister for Multiculturalism, I encourage all Canadians to learn more about Nayrouz, and about our fellow citizens of Coptic heritage, and I send my warmest wishes to all who are celebrating the Feast of Nayrouz today.”