• By: Dan Donovan

Despite Stormy Waters, the Canada-China Friendship is in Full Bloom at the Canadian Tulip Festival

The start of the annual Canadian Tulip Festival each May is synonymous with the arrival of spring and the kick-off of the festival season in the nation's capital. Since 1953, the tulip has symbolized the strong bond that formed when Canada liberated the Netherlands during the Second World War. Princess Juliana from the Dutch Royal Family escaped the Netherlands during the Nazi invasion and stayed in Ottawa. As a gift of her gratitude to Canada, she presented over 100,000 tulip bulbs to be planted on Ottawa's grounds. As the tulips bloomed, they quickly generated interest among Canadians and turned into a tourist attraction drawing over 600,000 Canadian and international visitors. The display of millions of tulips throughout the capital set the stage for a celebration of authentic art, cultural, historical, culinary and family tulip experiences.

To honour the 20th anniversary of the Beijing-Ottawa Sister City agreement, festival organizers set up the Beijing Ottawa Tulip Friendship Garden at Commissioners Park. They made the festival's official tulip a glorious red and yellow flower by twinning the maple leaf red of Canada's flag with the bold red field of the Chinese Flag and then paired it with golden yellow. The result is a beautiful tulip representing the strong local bonds and warmth of the Canada-China friendship. To highlight the significance of the relationship, Canadian Tulip Festival President Grant Hooker joined Chinese Ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, and Deputy Mayor of Ottawa, Laura Dudas, at a watering and gift exchange ceremony for the friendship garden.

Ambassador Lu thanked Canadians for their hard work in promoting the Canada-China friendship. Grant Hooker spoke of the warm friendship between Beijing and China as sister cities and thanked Ambassador Lu, his staff and all of the people who came together to make the China Day event a success. Hooker noted that the Chinese dragon dancers who performed at the event had created quite a stir and some excitement in the crowd as hundreds of people gathered to watch them perform. Deputy Mayor Dudas said that it was a great privilege for her to be speaking on behalf of Mayor Jim Watson and thanked China, Ambassador Lu, the embassy staff and the city of Beijing for their longstanding and ongoing friendship with Ottawa. The most colourful displays of the Canada-China friendship tulip can be found next to Dow's Lake, amongst the more than 250,000 tulips that fill the park’s 30 flower beds.