THE Mother Language Lovers of the World Society (MLLWS) in collaboration with other literary and linguistic associations organized the International Mother Language Day (IMLD) on April 6 at Surrey Art Center.
UNESCO adopted a resolution in November 19, 1999, in which February 21 was declared as the International Mother Language Day, to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity. The UN General Assembly in its resolution established 2008 as an International Year of Language.
This date was picked up on the basis of historical event that occurred in Dhaka, Bangladesh, when students of Dhaka University and Medical College raised their voices and held a march to get the Bengali language accepted as one of the national languages of Pakistan. A number of young students were shot dead. Dr. Rafiqul Islam of Greater Vancouver, the founder of MLLWS, was one of those who participated in the march and later joined the “Mukti Vahini” (Liberation Army) to make Bangladesh a free nation.
Dr. Sanzida Habib and Amlan Das Gupta welcomed the guests. There was an opening prayer by Dano Dhorne Kwa-Liquinam from the Kwantlen First Nations community followed by the speech of chief guest June Laitar, Director of FRAFCA, who expressed her concerns about not enough being done to preserve native languages.
President Aminul Islam Mowla said, “Languages are most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage.”
Dance items were presented by young Bengali girls and a Filipino group.
Speeches, included a homage paid to Dr. Rafiqul Islam, were given by Acharya S. Dwivedi, Abdul Salam, Shreshtha, J. Hakizimana, Dr. S. A. Tulu and Duke Ashrafuzzaman.
(Information by Acharya S.P. Dwivedi)