Canadian PM attends Chinese New Year celebration in Vancouver

Updated: 2017-01-31 09:21:05

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to the crowd at a Chinese New Year parade in Vancouver, BC, Canada January 29, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led a procession of political leaders, community groups and dancers through Vancouver's historic Chinatown Sunday morning for the city's annual Chinese New Year Parade.

Under a heavy rain and flanked by Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Chinese Consul General to Vancouver, Liu Fei, Trudeau walked surrounded by photographers and his stern security unit up Pender Street - the main artery Vancouver's 130-year-old Chinese district.

Spectators crammed shoulder-to-shoulder along the sidewalks as fire crackers snapped over a din of drums.

British Columbia's Premier Christy Clark greeted spectators and handed out lucky red envelopes to children along the 1.3-kilometer parade route, wishing them a happy new year.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to the crowd at a Chinese New Year parade in Vancouver, BC, Canada January 29, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Spectators watched from above from the balcony of Chin Wing Chun building, one of the many historic Chinese association buildings that have resided along Pender Street for decades.

Lion dancers dressed in silver, purple and red lurched and bobbed to the backing of drum beats outside the Chinese Cultural Centre. The event marks the largest assembly of lion dancers in all of Canada and attracts nearly 100,000 spectators.

At one intersection a massive golden dragon writhed and danced under the control of about a dozen young men.

Vancouver is home to more than 400,000 Chinese-Canadians.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau performs the eye-dotting on a lion dance costume at a Chinese New Year parade in Vancouver, BC, Canada January 29, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the event comes at an important time as a showcase of diversity and inclusion. It shows a contrast between Canada and what he called a "distressing" immigration executive order issued over the weekend by US President Donald Trump that banned travel to the US by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

"We're marching in our streets to celebrate multiculturalism and and we need to stake that strong role as a city and a country," he told Xinhua.

"I love the Chinese New Year Parade because it brings all cultures together to celebrate the Asian culture and that's what we do in Vancouver," he said. "It's inclusive of all cultures but we highlight the strengths of each people. It's a very mixed crowd celebrating the lunar New Year."

Richard Lee, a member of British Columbia's provincial government, told Xinhua he has been attending the parade since the 1980s. The parade used to attract thousands, and now it attracts tens of thousands, he said.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau watches a lion dance at a Chinese New Year Parade in Vancouver, BC, Canada January 29, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

"It's a new start to the year. We forget the past and we look forward to a bright future," Lee said. "The year of the rooster is very positive. When the rooster makes some noise, it's the beginning of the day. It's a bright future."

Penny Lim joined spectators on the sidewalk near the Millennium Gate, a massive archway that signals the entry to Chinatown on Pender Street. She gripped a camera that hung around her neck.

She said her father moved to Vancouver from Guangdong province. Born here, Lim has been coming to the parade for decades to film and photograph the lion dancers.

"The colors are quite exciting," she said. "When I was young, I didn't appreciate them, but the combinations of orange, pink, yellow; I think is quite vibrant."

She said the event is a showcase of Canadian diversity. "It's a connection to our heritage, and mainly it's festive and a lot of fun. Great for people-watching and great for photography."

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