Khalil Gibran Monument Dedication Celebration
June 12, 2009
The Khalil Gibran Monument Dedication Celebration was held at Simon Fraser University on June 12, 2009, and was co-sponsored with the World Lebanese Cultural Union. The attractive monument overlooking the Northshore mountains from the Burnaby campus commemorates the 125th anniversary of the birth of the poet, philosopher, and painter, Khalil Gibran. Writing in Arabic and English, Gibran made a profound contribution to Lebanese, Arab-American, and western cultures. It is an ideal location, given SImon Fraser University's long tradition of Middle East Studies, established by Professor William Cleveland in the 1960s, the dynamic presence at the University of the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures, and the increasing profile of its Library’s Arabic language collection.
The monument itself was donated to Simon Fraser University by the British Columbia Coucil of the World Lebanese Cultural Union. It is the first such monument in Canada, and the second outside the Middle East after Washington, D.C. The monument also signals the important relationship between Simon Fraser University and the Lebanese diaspora.
The afternoon event began with the dedication ceremony, with speeches by Dr. Michael Stevenson (former President, SFU), His Excellency Massoud Maalouf (Lebanese Ambassador to Canada), Elie Hakme (President, World Lebanese Cultural Union), Jamalle Zarifeh (President, BC Branch World Lebanese Cultural Union), Dr. Lesley Cormack (Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, SFU), Dr. Derryl MacLean (Director, CCSMSC, SFU), Elias Kassaab (President of North American Branch World Lebanese Cultural Union), and the Honourable Alice Wong (MP and Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Citizenship).
The dedication was followed by the planting of a Cedar of Lebanon below the monument and an address on Khalil Gibran's meaning today by the renowned Lebanese poet, Henri Zoughaib, Director of the Centre for Lebanese Heritage at the Lebanese American University of Beirut.