22/10/15

Minister Humphreys attends International Famine Commemoration in New Brunswick, Canada

Minister pays tribute to Canadian welcome for Famine emigrants

Speaking today (Thursday) on the first day of the 2015 International Famine Commemoration in New Brunswick, Canada, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, Heather Humphreys TD, paid tribute to the help and support provided by the people of Canada to Irish emigrants fleeing the Famine in the 1840s.

During her four day visit to Canada Minister Humphreys will meet with political and business leaders and local Irish community organisations and academics in across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Minister will travel to Halifax, Saint John, Moncton, Miramichi and Prince Edward Island.

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:

“Over the coming days we will commemorate the victims of the Great Irish Famine; a tragic period in our history, when our ancestors endured starvation and unimaginable hardship. Tens of thousands of Irish people arrived on the eastern shores of Canada during the Famine years. They were shown incredible compassion by the people of Canada, many of whom risked death and disease to help the Irish after their gruelling transatlantic crossing.

“The devastating legacy of the Famine is evident across the eastern region of Canada, where up to 20,000 Irish famine victims lie buried. Thankfully, many thousands more survived the journey and their subsequent arrival in a foreign land. This was in no small part thanks to the compassion shown by the Canadian people. The Irish people will never forget the generous welcome given by the people of Canada to the desolate masses that arrived on their shores.

“This year’s International Famine Commemoration is not just an opportunity to remember the tragedy of the Great Famine, it also gives us a chance to celebrate the huge contribution which Irish emigrants have made to Canada. This influence is particularly apparent across New Brunswick, where almost a quarter of the population claim Irish ancestry. On a personal note, I am looking forward to exploring links with my own county of Monaghan, from where thousands of emigrants departed in search of a new life in Canada during the Famine.

“A key aim of the International Famine Commemoration is to raise awareness of famine issues in the modern world.  One of the legacies left behind by the famine in Ireland is the deep compassion which is felt by Irish people for those who suffer from hunger today and a resultant strong commitment to humanitarian aid and relief.  The International Famine Commemoration serves an important role in generating discussion, at national and international levels, regarding aid and emergency assistance for those in need today.”

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Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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