Dutch Heritage Day approved by Parliament on April 11, 2019
From left, Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Canada Frederieke Quispel presents Dave and Faye Van Kesteren with the De Handdruk (Handshake) Statue, which is given as a symbol of a strong connection. January 2019. (Photo courtesy of Dave Van Kesteren via Facebook)

It’s time to stock up on orange clothing and wooden shoes because from now on, May 5 will be known as Dutch Heritage Day in Canada.

The federal government has adopted a motion from Chatham-Kent-Leamington MP Dave Van Kesteren to recognize Canada’s special relationship with the Netherlands annually on that date, starting next month.

Van Kesteren brought forward the motion (M-207) in January and right from the beginning it was met with support from all parties, eventually passing unanimously in Parliament on April 10 (285 in favour, none opposed).

“It’s always good to bring forward a motion that everybody agrees on,” said Van Kesteren. “When it comes to the people of Canada, where we come from… it’s a great story and the story is great because we all contribute in a different way and we bring into the community something we can all benefit from and that’s in essence what this motion is about.”

But the motion isn’t only meant to celebrate the contributions of Dutch immigrants to Canadian society. It is also meant to honour the sacrifices made by Canadian veterans who gave their lives fighting for the Liberation of Holland, which took place on May 5, 1945.

While the day will not be observed as a national holiday, Van Kesteren is still hoping some special annual recognition will take place.

“I’m hoping it will grow legs of its own, in all communities — children of immigrants and grandchildren will think about that and come up with something that they can do to make it more meaningful,” said Van Kesteren. “It’s entirely up to the community… there will be some plans for the 75th anniversary of the liberation, which will happen next year — that’ll be a little more intense.”

The approval of the motion was also well-received by members of the Dutch Embassy in Ottawa, who were following the proceedings very closely.

“They are planning some things as well, too, and it’ll probably mean tulip bulbs,” said Van Kesteren. “They want to bring the message back to the Netherlands and we’re hoping this thing will catch fire all on its own and it’ll start to grow.”H