The Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival has apologized after it let an anti-immigration organization take part in the festival’s parade on Saturday. Festival organizers banned the group from participating in the festival in the future.
“We apologize to anyone who may have felt unsafe at the Grand Street Parade because of this political party’s attendance and derogatory messaging,” organizers of the week-long festival in Kentville, N.S., said in a statement released on Sunday.
“Our Festival strives to be inclusive … and is dedicated to reconciliation.”
The National Citizens Alliance (NCA) is a political organization that is not an officially registered part but has committed to running candidates in the 2019 federal election. The group marched in the parade while carrying a banner with the slogan, “Save Our Canada!”
“We need to protect Canada’s cultural identity,” said Stephen Garvey, the leader of the NCA, in a Facebook Live video that was made during the parade.
“Please stand up for being Canadian.”
The NCA, which is headquartered out of Calgary, Alta., says they stand up for “Canada’s traditional identity, heritage [and] culture.”
Among the group’s core tenants is the goal of implementing a “strong no nonsense immigration policy that puts the well-being and safety of the Canadian people first and implementing a temporary pause and substantial reduction in immigration.”
Other planks in the NCA’s proposed platform include the”integration” of new arrivals into the “basic cultural norms of Canada” and a belief that political correctness threatens Canada’s identity and culture.
The party’s website displays statements that are anti-Islam, including a belief that the burka or niqab is not part of Canada’s cultural norms and a claim that there are “no-go zones” and immigrant ghettos in Europe.
The idea of no-go zones holds that there are lawless Islamist neighbourhoods in Europe where Sharia law is imposed, and non-Muslims aren’t permitted.
The Apple Blossom Festival says that political parties are allowed to participate in the parade but are not allowed to use them to announce their political views.
Organizers said that the NCA did not indicate on its festival application that it was “representing or aligned with a group with such malicious viewpoints.”
“In future years, we will strive to ensure that parade attendees will not have to endure a situation similar to that which was present this year,” the organization said in its statement.
Organizers say they’re also calling on other local and national festivals to follow their lead and ban the NCA from participating in future events.
The NCA was in Halifax’s Victoria Park on Sunday for what it described as a peaceful information session.
“There’s a lot of myths being perpetuated in our society about immigration,” Garvey says through a bullhorn during the Facebook live video from the event.
“We are told Canada is a country of immigrants. That is false as well, because Canada was settled by settlers and pioneers. These weren’t immigrants. These were settlers and pioneers.”
On Monday, Garvey pushed back on the ban against by the festival, in another Facebook live video.
“The National Citizens Alliance encourages the apple blossom parade board to rescind their decision, knee-jerk reaction to ban the National Citizens Alliance from this beautiful parade and issue an apology to the members of the National Citizens Alliance,” Garvey said.
With a file from Rahul Kalvapelle
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