Fadi Rashed said he felt humbled when looking around the room during the Lebanese Levee this weekend.
Rashed, who was born in Lebanon in 1975 before his family left the country, told the more than 1,000 Islanders at the levee that growing up in Canada has made it sometimes easy to take things for granted.
Rashed pointed out that Lebanon, a country about twice the size of P.E.I. with an estimated 5.9 million people, sits in the middle of a region constantly suffering from war.
“My parents left everything they had to come here and give my brothers, my sister and me a chance at a better life and I could not be more thankful,” said Rashed, the president of the Canadian Lebanese Association of P.E.I.
Rashed said the peace, prosperity and opportunities offered for those willing to work hard make Canada one of the greatest countries in the world.
“If you’re willing to do that, then Canada will offer you everything it has to fulfill your dreams,” he said. “It’s also filled with the kindest most forgiving people I’ve ever met and when I look around this room and see the amount of support we get from this community, I’m humbled.”
The contributions of P.E.I.’s Lebanese community to Canada were celebrated in the ballroom of the Delta Prince Edward Saturday night during the sold-out 54th annual levee.
Rashed said the event is not just a fundraiser but also an opportunity to showcase Lebanese culture.
“The Lebanese are renowned for their hospitality, their love of socializing, music, dance and, of course, food,” said Rashed. “It can’t get any more authentic than what we have to share here tonight.”
Nick Tweel, emcee for the evening, said members of the association have been working non-stop over the past couple months organizing the event.
He noted that food is the “biggest part” of the event and was prepared by many women in P.E.I.’s Lebanese community over the past few days.
“Right from scratch, the same way my mother, grandmother and their parents had done for many years,” said Tweel.
The buffet included tabouli, hummus, fatayer, kebab, fried meat balls and a number of Lebanese sweets.
The evening’s entertainment included belly dancer Miryam Khoury and club percussionist FADI KOD.
The event also saw the attendance of premier Wade MacLauchlan, Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis, Charlottetown MP Sean Casey, opposition leader Jamie Fox and several other dignitaries.
MacLauchlan said the contributions made by the Lebanese community in P.E.I are strongly reflected in the province’s cultural, business and civic circles.
“Whether it’s at municipal government or provincial leadership, this community has produced premiers and mayors to make P.E.I. the great place it is,” said MacLauchlan. “No part of our community is more responsible for (P.E.I.’s) progress than the Lebanese community.”