German Heritage Month and Oktoberfest
On September 30, 2016, I placed a Notice of Motion on the House of Commons Order Paper calling on the government to recognize the contributions that German-Canadians have made to Canadian society by declaring October, every year, German Heritage Month. The Motion also asks the government to recognize Oktoberfest every year as a celebration of German culture and heritage. The Motion was adopted unanimously by the House of Commons on December 13, 2016.
Why Is This Important?
There are well over 3 million Canadians of German ethnic origin – nearly one out of every 10 Canadians. Almost one out of every four people in Waterloo Region are of German ethnic ancestry; in Kitchener-Conestoga, 3 out of every 10 persons. In some areas of Saskatchewan nearly 4 out of every 10 persons is of German ethnic ancestry. Canadians of German ethnic origin number nearly a quarter million people in Toronto, two hundred thousand in Vancouver, over one hundred thousand in each of Winnipeg and Waterloo Region, and nearly one hundred thousand in Montreal.
German immigration to what is now Canada began in the middle of the 18th century starting with Nova Scotia, principally the South Shore. The Little Dutch (Deutsch) Church in Halifax, located on land set aside for the German-speaking community in 1752, was designated a National Historic Site in 1997 as the oldest known surviving church in Canada associated with the German Canadian community.
Following the American Revolution, groups of Germans leaving the United States settled southwest of Montreal and south of Quebec City, but the largest group, Mennonites from Pennsylvania, settled around Berlin, Ontario (now Kitchener and Waterloo). That settlement attracted new immigrants from Germany, drawing some 50,000 to the region over the following decades, continuing well after 1850.
In Montreal, immigrants and Canadians of German descent founded the German Society of Montreal in April 1835. The Society is still active today and celebrated its 180th anniversary last year in 2015.
The population of Canada’s west beginning in 1896 drew further large numbers of German immigrants, mostly from eastern Europe. German speaking Mennonites leaving Tsarist Russia were especially prominent among the new prairie farming community.
In the years since 1945 there have been about four hundred thousand German-speaking immigrants to Canada.
Prominent Canadians of German descent include:
Prime Minister John Diefenbaker; Edward Schreyer, former Governor-General and former Premier of Manitoba; Gary Doer, former Ambassador to the United States and former Premier of Manitoba; Ralph Klein, former Premier of Alberta; and William Berczy (in 1794, co-founder of what is now the City of Toronto).
Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella
Cindy Klassen and Silken Laumann; hockey players Bobby Bauer, Woody Dumart, Dany Heatly, Howie Morenz, Rob Niedermayer, Scott Niedermayer, Milt Schmidt, and Earl Siebert.
Arts and Entertainment
Roger Avery, Randy Bachman, Justin Bieber, Matt Brouwer, Sarah Chalke, Feist, Paul Gross, John Kay, Taylor Kitsch, Cornelius Krieghoff, Chad Kroeger, k.d. lang, Almuth Lütkenhaus, Valerie Poxleitner, Miriam Toews, John Vernon, Augustus Stephen Vogt, Eberhard Zeidler, and Joel Thomas Zimmerman.
Full Text of the Notice of Motion
M-73 — September 30, 2016 — Mr. Tabbara (Kitchener South—Hespeler) — That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the contributions that German-Canadians have made to Canadian society, the richness of the German language and culture, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon German heritage for future generations, and that Waterloo Region is host to the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany, by declaring October, every year, German Heritage Month, and the nine days commencing the Friday before Thanksgiving, every year, Oktoberfest.
Current Status of the Motion
The Motion was adopted unanimously by the House of Commons on December 13, 2016.
Show Your Support
If you, or your organization, would like to endorse the Motion, please send us an email with your words of endorsement to Marwan.Tabbara@parl.gc.ca
© 2017 Marwan Tabbara. All rights reserved.