New Brunswick, Canada 2015

International Famine Commemoration
23rd October 2015
Saint John,
New Brunswick,

Speaking at the 2015 International Famine Commemoration in Saint John, New Brunswick on Friday 23rd October 2015, Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee paid tribute to the welcome which was afforded by the people of Canada in the 19th century to those who fled Ireland and found refuge there during An Gorta Mór and the desperate years which followed.

Minister Humphreys said:  “We are here today to commemorate the victims of the Great Irish Famine; a tragic period in Irish History, a time when our ancestors endured starvation and unimaginable hardship.  As many fled Ireland in desperation, leaving behind their families, homes and country to travel to distant shores in search of better lives, Irish communities began to gain footholds wherever sanctuary was found, as they did here in New Brunswick and elsewhere in Canada.  The Irish people will never forget the generous welcome given by the people of Canada to the desolate masses that arrived on their shores.”

In conclusion, Minister Humphreys stated that: “A key aim of today’s Commemoration, and of the National Famine Commemoration Committee which I chair, 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.”

During her visit to Canada Minister Humphreys met with political and business leaders and local Irish community organisations and academics in Halifax, Saint John and other locations throughout New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.  Speaking before her departure, Minister Humphreys observed that “The International Famine Commemoration is not just an opportunity to remember the tragedy of the Great Famine, it also recognises the unshakeable bond which the Irish people share with our Diaspora, the descendants of those who emigrated and forged new lives here in Canada and elsewhere, and to celebrate the contribution which these people have made to their adopted nations.”

In addition to unveiling a commemorative plaque at the Famine Memorial in St. Patrick’s Square, Saint John, Minister Humphreys also attended memorial events in Miramichi and Moncton in New Brunswick and Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island.