Cultural Spotlight – Turkish Republic Day celebrations, Turkish-Canadian friendship and art

The Turkish-Canadian Society is releasing a video program online on Oct. 29 to celebrate the Turkish-Canadian Friendship and the Turkish Republic Day, an annual holiday that is celebrated by Turkish people around the world. The theme of this year’s video is Turkish art and culture.

Demet Edeer, the president and a long-standing volunteer for the Turkish-Canadian Society, says that the Turkish Republic Day is the most important day for the independence of modern Turkey, and they wish to share the celebrations with their Canadian friends at the Turkish-Canadian Friendship night.

A 98-Year tradition

The Turkish Republic Day has been celebrated by Turkish people since the country’s founding in 1923 to recognize the state and the creation of its new constitution, with this year marking its 98th anniversary.

According to Edeer, the holiday is usually observed with a variety of festivities, including parades, ballroom dinners and dances, performances and commemorations for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and the first president of the new state who guided the country through many progressive reforms that led to its industrialization, secularization and modernization.

The Turkish-Canadian Society, which helps Turkish immigrants become familiar with their new homelands and works on increasing public knowledge of Turkish culture, language, history and art, hosts annual events in celebration of the Turkish Republic Day and the Turkish-Canadian Friendship. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, however – as was the case in 2020 – the normally in-person celebrations hosted by the society have been moved online to a video format.

Celebration theme and events

Edeer indicates that some members of the society were troubled by some news from Turkey about the censorship of Turkish artists and actors by the government, especially since this is contrary to the democratic values promoted by Atatürk. This, as a result, inspired the theme of this year’s online celebrations.

Ballroom dancing from a past Turkish Republic Day celebration hosted by the Turkish-Canadian Society. | Photo courtesy of Demet Edeer

“Our starting point this year during our event planning was the theme of art and culture; we aimed to highlight everything and anything under the topic of modern Turkey, Atatürk and art, such as the approach to art under Atatürk and how he set a good environment for art to nourish,” says Edeer. “This theme guided how we worked on selecting our participants and the segments to be inserted into the video.”

The video will feature a discussion from a panelist on the topic of art in the Turkish republic from several prominent Turkish artistic figures: Bedri Baykam, an internationally known artist and painter who is known as a pioneer of the New-Expressionism movement, as well as his political painting in multimedia and photo-painting mediums; Yilmaz Buyukersen, the Mayor of Eskisehir and the only wax sculptor in Turkey; and Sinan Meydan, a historian, author and journalist who writes about Atatürk’s life and the history of the Republic.

Additionally, several renowned Turkish artists recorded performances for the video, including Tamar Levent, the director of the Turkish State Theatres and an actor and art director who was invited to numerous international festivals; Cihat Askin, a violin virtuoso who is considered the international representative of the Turkish Violin School; and Nil Kocamangil, an award-winning cellist who performed with several prominent orchestras around the world. There are also two more important artists: Tomris Cetinel, a cinema,theatre, TV and voice actress) and Demet Tuncer a theatre, TV, voice actress and singer.

The video will also feature a dance performance at Olympic Village, a mini-choir ensemble, a showcase of an Atatürk art workshop for children that was held at a local art studio and photos of the Republic Parade, which is made of photos.

Video program release

For this year’s events, Edeer says she looks forward to the attendance of audience members online who can watch and comment on the video program, as well as to share the messages and themes of this year’s Republic Day celebration with the society’s Canadian friends.

The video, releasing on Oct. 29, will be available on the Turkish-Canadian Society’s Youtube channel, which can be accessed here: www.youtube.com/channel/UCnaL9DgDOpIbusTlYLSSlbg/featured.

In addition, the video will be shared on their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TurkishCanadianSocietyVancouver, and their website, www.turkishcanadiansociety.org.

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