Parliament of Canada declares May 5th Dutch Heritage Day

The Parliament of Canada has declared May 5th 'Dutch Heritage Day' after unanimous support for motion M-207. In recognition of the sacrifices made by Canadians in the liberation of the Netherlands, as well as the contributions made to Canada by those of Dutch heritage, the government recognizes every May 5th as Dutch Heritage Day to honour this unique bond.

The motion was submitted by Dave Van Kesteren, Member of Parliament (MP) for Chatham-Kent-Leamington earlier in the year. The official vote took place on the evening of April 10, when the Parliament in Ottawa unanimously voted in favour.

“It is my hope that with the establishment of Dutch Heritage Day, Canada recognizes the voice of the grateful nation that says, “Thank you, Canada”, and in response Canadians recognize all that the Netherlands has given to us and says, “Thank you, Holland,” said Dave Van Kesteren, Member of Parliament for Chatham-Kent—Leamington.

MP Van Kesteren with colleagues and Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
MP Dave Van Kesteren and colleagues together with the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Canada.

Historical bond

MP Van Kesteren mentioned in his opening remarks: “Canada shares so many things with the Netherlands, but the greatest bond was forged in 1940, when the Royal Dutch family took refuge in Canada, during Second World War, and with the future Queen Juliana giving birth to Princess Margriet in an Ottawa hospital,” he continued, “a room was declared to be extraterritorial and for the first time the Dutch flag flew on the peace tower.”

“Then as destiny would have it, Canadians found themselves fighting for the liberation of the Netherlands, and on May 5th, 1945, the Netherlands was made free once again.

In appreciation for this tremendous sacrifice, the Dutch began to send tens of thousands of tulip bulbs every year– the Dutch National flower, followed by the gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs that were given by the Royal family after the war. Each year, Canadians make pilgrimage to the Netherlands, and the Dutch children along with their parents lay flowers and tend graves of the cemeteries and memorials.

Following the Second World War, over 200,000 Dutch immigrants settled across Canada, contributing to Canadian society in all walks of life. Today over one million Canadians can trace their heritage to the Netherlands.

“I hope that celebrating every May 5th as Dutch Heritage Day, will have a similar legacy, and cherish this friendship and bond for years to come.”

Forever grateful

The approval of the motion was welcomed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ottawa, that was following the proceedings very closely. "The historic ties that bind us such as the liberation of the Netherlands by Canadians, and the wave of Dutch immigration to this country, have forged a very close friendship between our two countries. We are incredibly proud that the Parliament of Canada is recognizing May 5 as Dutch Heritage Day. We look forward to celebrating this day with all Canadians,” says Henk van der Zwan, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Canada.