All roads heading to Canada as Toronto becomes Rwanda town
They are coming from all cross North America to meet up with one of Rwanda’s largest diaspora communities globally. Yes, it is Canada. Thousands of Rwandans are descending on Toronto for what could be the largest gathering of Rwandans ever in Canada.
Today Saturday September 28 is Rwanda Day – a time when Rwandans and their friends meet, interact and exchange views on the direction of their country. The event has been held in various other cities, London being the most recent in May. It is also the first time the event is taking place in Canada.
As the day gets underway, all roads will be heading to 45 Carl Hall Road in Downsview Park – an upscale part of Toronto. There will be an exhibition showcasing various aspects of Rwanda. And yes, those at the venue will be able to buy Rwandan art and fashion, coffee or tea and many other Rwandan products. If you are planning on investing in Africa, you could make your decision today to come to Rwanda. There will be all information what you need to be up and operating within a few days.
Perhaps the biggest name in town will be President Paul Kagame. He will speak at the event as has been the tradition over the years when Rwanda Day was introduced. At previous events, President Kagame has left a mark on those who have attended.
After the President’s speech, there will be a question and answer session – allowing for anybody to ask anything they would like addressed. Going by previous sessions, issues have ranged from announcements of plans to launch businesses to concerns over service delivery of some government agencies which affect return of those in the diaspora.
There is an estimated 14,000 Rwandans living in Canada, according to Parfait Gahamanyi, Director General of the Rwandan Community Abroad at Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Despite the ups and downs of relations between Kigali and Ottawa (Canada’s political seat), it remains one of the closest partner states. There is no direct Canadian government aid to Kigali as the government in Canada considers Rwanda more of a country that has moved away from aid dependence.
Trade between Canada and Rwanda hit $52.8 million in 2012, according to government figures. This was due to the sale of Canadian planes to Rwanda’s national carrier – making Rwanda Canada’s largest trading partner in Central Africa region in the past year.
During the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda, a Canadian general and currently Senator Romeo Dallaire was the commander of the UN force. As a result of what he helplessly saw, Dallaire has turned into Rwanda’s most outspoken friends.
The Canadian Parliament in 2004, declared April 7 as a Day of Remembrance of the genocide victims. And on April 7, 2008, the Canadian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution to designate April 7 as a Day of Reflection on the Prevention of Genocide.