Sudbury’s Pakistani community gathered at the James Jerome Sports Complex Sunday to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence.
Independence Day is observed annually on August 14 in Pakistan, and commemorates the day when the largely Muslim country achieved independence from Britain and was declared a sovereign state in 1947.
The Sudbury celebration featured speeches, the singing of Pakistan’s national anthem and patriotic songs, as well as the reading of a City of Greater Sudbury proclamation and the raising of Pakistan’s flag by Deputy Mayor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann.
Naeem Ahmed shared a comprehensive history of Pakistan with the roughly 50 people gathered at the event. He said he felt this was important to do, as some people of Pakistani descent living in Sudbury - including his own son - have never even been to Pakistan.
“It is important to keep yourself abreast with what Pakistan is now and how it came into being, and what the history was,” said Ahmed, who left Pakistan in 1994, and lived in Germany and the U.S. before coming to Canada 20 years ago.
“You shouldn't forget your roots.”
During his speech, Ahmed said that like all countries, Pakistan has made mistakes over the past 75 years, “but we are on the way to to better ourselves, to better the country, to grow the country, and to have very friendly relations with all the countries in the world.”
Tay Butt, one of the organizers of the Sudbury event, said it was great to be able to gather to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day after two years of COVID restrictions.
Butt said that similarly to Canada Day on July 1, the Pakistani people have traditionally celebrated the day their country was officially created.
He estimates there are close to 200 families of Pakistani descent living in the Greater Sudbury area. Butt said he left Pakistan and moved to Canada in 1995, and then moved to Sudbury in 2000. At that time, there were very few Pakistanis here.
“Now, more and more families are coming to Sudbury,” he said. “It’s a good city to live in.”
Landry-Altmann said she was pleased to attend the event on behalf of Greater Sudbury’s mayor and council. She said the Pakistani people who live in Greater Sudbury are making the community a better place.
“Our success depends on people of all different backgrounds coming together to help our community grow,” said Landry-Altmann. “As a municipality, we are committed to doing everything that we can to become a welcoming home to all different cultures.”