The Canadian parliament has passed a bill to officially observe February 21 as the International Mother Language Day.
On February 21 in 1952, Pakistan police opened fire on Bengali students protesting against the decision of imposing Urdu as the state language of the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Many students were killed on that day. Bangladesh observed the day as shaheed diwas or language martyr’s day. UNESCO recognised the day in 1999 as the International Mother Language Day to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism.
According to the foreign ministry, the Canadian House of Commons has passed Bill S-214 on the International Mother Language Day (IMLD) Act.
By adopting this bill, Canada will now officially honour IMLD on February 21 every year.
It is a historic moment for Bangladeshi Canadians and the proponents of mother tongues globally, said the Bangladesh High Commission in Canada on Friday.
On the occasion, the high commission acknowledged the contribution of late Rafiqul Islam, Abdus Salam and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for getting IMLD adopted by UNESCO in 1999 and later by the UN.
"We also recognise the contribution of Aminul Islam to take the initiative to get Bill S-214 passed by the Canadian parliament," said the mission in a statement.
High Commissioner Dr. Khalilur Rahman was present at the House of Commons during the discussion and passing of the bill.
Ken Hardie MP, who introduced the bill to the House, and Mobina S Jaffer, a senator, who led the passing of the Bill earlier by the Canadian Senate, were also present.
The high commission acknowledged the initiative and contribution of the Mother Language Lovers of the World Society and its President Aminul for persisting with Bill S-214 with the MPs and senators for almost a decade.
"Adoption of Bill S-214 highlights Canada's commitment to linguistic diversity and cultural heritage. The bill recognises that language is an essential aspect of one's identity and cultural heritage, and linguistic diversity should be celebrated, promoted, and preserved," the Bangladesh mission said.