St Patrick’s Day Open Letter
Celebrating Irish Heritage
On March 1st 2023 Minister Ahmed Hussen and MP James Maloney officially
proclaimed March as Irish Heritage Month. Recognizing the importance of Irish heritage
to Canada brings great joy to the more than 4.6 million Canadians of Irish descent. We
honour the many contributions of our compatriots and predecessors toward making this
great country what it is today and we remember their struggles and accomplishments.
Just as we take pride in our heritage, it comes as a great shock to realize that one of the
ways of celebrating things Irish is an event that occurs on St. Patrick’s Day, that not only
dishonours Irish heritage, but also leads people to associate Irish identity with
drunkenness and destruction of public property. What we have in mind is the party that
takes place on Ezra Avenue in Waterloo. Waterloo is home to Wilfrid Laurier University
and the University of Waterloo, both premier institutions recognized across Canada and
around the world. While these universities do not officially sanction this event, it is their
students who participate in this party. More importantly, both university administrators
and local politicians turn a blind eye to the mayhem wrought by students in the name of
St. Patrick’s Day. This makes them complicit in its occurrence. We must emphasize that,
in addition to creating a public disturbance that is routinely covered by the media, this
event insults Irish heritage by reducing the public perception of our culture to public
drunkenness and destructive behaviour.
Nowhere else within our region and among its universities does any gathering, festival,
or celebration named after a culture revolve around public intoxication and lawlessness.
We politely ask why our university administrations and local politicians continue to
condone this behavior amongst their students, thus perpetuating it. Our universities and
our civic administration are better than this.
Canada is a country celebrated for its multiculturalism policy. In this day of increased
awareness of the need to recognize, understand, and honour all cultural backgrounds,
we are calling on our academic institutions and local governments to join citizens of Irish
descent in condemning this insult to our culture and our heritage.
Brian Michael Lawson David
David Patrick O’Leary