KLM Celebrates 3rd Dutch Heritage Month

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By A Correspondent

2013 marks the 3rd anniversary of May having been designated Dutch Heritage Month. Ontario provincial parliament proclaimed May as Dutch Heritage Monthin March 2011

Karan Deswal, Air France/KLM Director Stations honoured Dutch Heritage month with a lovely party attended by senior AF/KLM management team, representatives of the Dutch community, travel industry, media and officials of the airport authority.

Canada is a huge market for KLM. The carrier has been flying to Montreal since 1949 and to Toronto since 1974. This year the big blue jets will be operating daily non-stops to Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver along with double dailies to Toronto. They’ll be carrying a lot more than the approximately 1 million Dutch-Canadians and their relatives because KLM connects to the world through its Amsterdam hub. 

The celebration had a Dutch touch with Heineken, cheese and a variety from the Dutch bakery while the invited guests were mingling amidst the hostesses wearing Dutch costumes.

Ms Elizabeth Witmer, MPP Kitchener-Waterloo, who introduced the Bill on November 5, 2010 and piloted it through the Provincial Parliament, was applauded for her achievement. 

Ms Witmer emphasised that, “Dutch Heritage Month will be a symbol of the special bonds between Ontario and the Netherlands. It will foster mutual respect and honour the past with an opportunity to look into a bright future as innovative, creative and reliable partners. I am tremendously honoured to have the opportunity to join the Consul General and those who gathered here today in celebrating our history, our long friendship and our shared future as partners and friends.”

Hans Horbach, Consul General in Toronto, added, “The Netherlands is the third largest investor in Canada after the U.S. and the U.K. Not bad for a country that almost fits into Lake Ontario… we’re a small country with a large footprint!”  

When the time came to close the official ceremonies with Consul General Hans Horbach making the requisite draw for KLM tickets to Amsterdam, Elizabeth Witmer asked him to please not pull her name, because she always wins and she already has her tickets for this year’s trip to Holland. But, of course, her name was drawn. And, when her pleas for a re-draw were refused, she donated the tickets to The Netherlands Bazaar. The bazaar has been run with determined dedication by Kay Spaans since 1963 to assist members of the Dutch immigrant community who have fallen on hard times.

The Significance of May

May is historically significant for the Netherlands and the Canada’s Dutch community. It was on May 5, 1945, Canadian forces led the allies and liberated the Netherlands from its World War II occupation. The Dutch have never forgotten nor have they failed to celebrate the occasion each May 5th with ongoing gratitude for Canada’s efforts.

“By proclaiming the month of May as Dutch Heritage Month, the Province of Ontario recognizes the important contributions that Dutch Canadians have made to the economic, political, social and cultural fabric of Ontario’s society,” reads the Preamble to the Dutch Heritage Month Act, 2010.

The younger generation keeps up the tradition with equal enthusiasm. And, during WWII, Princess Marguerite was born in Ottawa – where a part of the hospital was officially declared territory of The

Netherlands to respect and ensure her place in line for the thrown. Each year the Dutch continue to send Ottawa thousands of tulip bulbs to express their appreciation for the shelter provided Queen Juliana and her family during that time.

The past ties are warm and Canada welcomed many Dutch immigrants after the war. So, it’s pretty cool to celebrate all of that with more than just one day. A whole month is more fitting. Most of the 500,000 Ontarians have been celebrating Dutch Heritage all month.

JULY 2018

Vol. 12 - No. 12


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