Preparations for the Rwanda Day event slated later this month in the Canadian city of Toronto are in high gear, organisers have said.
Rwanda Day, an event held in different countries around the world, brings together Rwandans and friends of Rwanda around the world to celebrate the country’s progress and discuss how best to contribute towards Rwanda’s social-economic transformation.
Previous events held in the United States, France and most recently, in May this year, in the UK saw President Paul Kagame as guest of honour.
According to Parfait Gahamanyi, Director General of the Rwandan Community Abroad (RCA) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the event will be held under the theme “Agaciro: Investing in Our Future.”
During such gatherings, Rwandans interact and exchange views on how they can contribute to the vision of a modern, unified and prosperous Rwanda.
Gahamanyi explained that everything is going on as planned and the aim, is largely for the Diaspora community to get to know where their country stands, where it is headed, what role they can play, as well as interact with their leaders.
“Canada, the next venue is especially important as there are many Rwandans living and working there. We don’t have exact figures but there are between 13, 000 and 14, 000 Rwandans there. Holding the event there means the message will reach very many Rwandans,” Gahamanyi said.
Several local companies have registered to hold exhibitions at the Toronto event.
“Our biggest objective is to recruit more trading partners who will take our flour to Canada. We’ve already got one in Ottawa, and while there, we shall meet him to finalise details,” Andrew Kulayige, the director of sales and marketing, Kinazi Cassava Plant, said of the upcoming event. “I am very excited, not only about an opportunity to exhibit our products but also about joining fellow Rwandans at Rwanda Day.”
Kulayige added that at the exhibition, they will not only have cassava flour but will also showcase products that are expected on the market very soon.
These will include items such as Isombe (Cassava leaves), cassava biscuits, and cassava bread, Kulayige said.
It is expected that after the Toronto event, Rwandans in Canada will also participate in Rwanda Week, a week-long event that will take place in another Canadian city, Ottawa.
According to Dr. Egide Karuranga, head of the Diaspora community in Canada, the Rwanda Week had earlier been scheduled for August 29 to September 2, but was postponed to pave way for Rwanda Day.
Rwanda - Canada relations
The relationship between Canada and Rwanda has evolved from one focused on aid to one that covers a wide range of issues, including trade promotion, judicial matters and cooperation within multilateral organisations such as the Commonwealth, according to officials.
Trade between Canada and Rwanda reportedly reached $52.8 million in 2012. The figures for 2012 rose considerably following the sale of two Canadian planes to Rwanda – making Rwanda Canada’s largest trading partner in the Central Africa, in that year.
In 2004, the Canadian Parliament declared April 7 as a Day of Remembrance of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
And on April 7, 2008, the Canadian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution to designate April 7 as a Day of Reflection on the Prevention of Genocide.
Former Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, made a state visit to Rwanda in April 2010 – the first visit to Rwanda by a high ranking Canadian official since the Genocide.