April 2014 Issue Draft
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The Lebanese Heritage
From British Columbia to the world...

April 2014 - Volume 2014, No.4
Commemorating the Lebanese on board of the Titanic


On the Trail of our Ancestors,
By Dr Josyann AbiSaab

It seems symbolic during this season of reflection and sacrifice culminating in the celebration of Easter, a time of hope and renewal, to contemplate the sacrifices our immigrant ancestors bore and to celebrate the hopes they carried with resilience and grit.

When considering the dozen millions of Lebanese which comprise the Diaspora, I cannot help but reflect on the grueling journeys the early immigrants endured in order to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and to provide them with better education and opportunities. I became even more acutely aware of the magnitude of their sacrifices while conducting research about the Lebanese on the Titanic. After incredulously learning that there were as many as 174 passengers from Mount Lebanon out of a total of 2200, I wondered why so many were leaving in droves, what kind of odyssey they had to brave before landing in America and what did they exactly do once they reached their destination?

There were several waves of Lebanese migration starting in the second half of the nineteenth century mainly to Egypt and to the “New World” (North and South America, Australia and New Zealand) and peaking at almost 10,000 annually in the pre-World War I years of 1912-1914. The “Travel-to-America” fever spiked coincidentally the year of Titanic’s first maiden voyage in 1912 as stories of the successes of the early immigrants reached remote villages in Mount Lebanon. Letters from the pioneer emigrants sometimes inflating their riches or by return visitors displaying signs of prosperity fueled the exodus to America. When news of the Titanic’s flamboyant launch reached the villagers of Mount Lebanon, imagination ran wild and many scrambled to purchase a ticket on the world’s greatest “unsinkable” ship.  Another reason why Lebanese came to America in great numbers in the early 1900’s is because of the influence of the American Protestant missionaries. They established hospitals, printing presses and several schools including the renowned Syrian Protestant College in 1866, today known as the American University of Beirut. Although not successful as proselytizers, the missionaries made a clear mark as educators by promoting education and literacy in both English and Arabic and spreading information about America, its schools, institutions, customs and opportunities.  Additional key factors to the extensive migration of Lebanese at the time are political and economical. Turkish oppression during the Ottoman era combined with the depressed state of the economy due to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 leading to a sharp decline in the silk industry and deficit of arable land all resulted in poverty and famine.

Further highlighting the arduous journey our Lebanese ancestors endured to make it to America, I was surprised to find out that it took about eight weeks of travel time from start to finish to finally arrive at Ellis Island. Their adventure started with either a donkey ride or a grueling four or five-day walk carrying their belongings down the mountain to Beirut. They would board a French liner, typically a small slow moving freighter, which would sail for two to three weeks, loading and unloading passengers along various Mediterranean stops before debarking in Marseille, France. Some ships carried cattle and other livestock, which would occasionally carry infectious diseases that would be tragically passed on to the human cargo. If any of the passengers fell ill and died along the way, they would be buried at sea. Once in Marseille, they would have to wait, sometimes weeks, for a train to take them to the northwest coast of France for the Atlantic crossing. Eighty five percent of our immigrants sailed with the French Steamship Lines from Le Havre. 

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Story of the Month

Dear Lebanon, where is my father? A Lebanese-Armenian story.

Dear Lebanon, where is my father? 

I come from an Armenian-Lebanese family that has faced hardship and dispersion for at least four generations. Orphans, widowers and widows abound.

My maternal great-grandmother, a native of Gurun in the Armenian highlands, lost her husband and three sons in the 1915 genocide. She was buried in Damascus. One of her daughters became my maternal grandmother. She, too, was buried in Damascus.

My paternal grandfather, a native of Hadjin, in Cilician Armenia, survived the genocide and found safe haven in Lebanon. He married another survivor, only to lose her to a disease rampant among Armenians in Lebanon’s refugee camps. She bore him two sons in the 1920s, one of them my father. I never found out where my paternal grandmother was buried in Beirut. My paternal grandfather, however, repatriated to Soviet Armenia and remarried. All five of his children from both marriages were named after siblings lost in the genocide.

Finally, I lost my father when I was 14. Thirty years ago this year, he was kidnapped during the Lebanese Civil War. Lebanon and much of the Arab world played an important role in saving thousands of Armenians from annihilation. However, the Lebanese Civil War, particularly the disappearance of my father, began a new phase in the dispersion of my family. For 30 years we have been mostly silent.


Quote of the Month

“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you're right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind even if you are minority of one. The truth is still the truth.”
― Mohandas Ghandi

Little Gazette!

In order to succeed in “Connecting the Lebanese across the World” and after a year of cooperation in the Information Technology and Social Networking fields, an MOU was signed between the WLCU-BC Council and the Cedar wings Group (CWG). The MOU will not only expand our ability to network many Lebanese in the Diaspora as well as in Lebanon, but it will improve the performance for the Website and the Online Newsletter.
Learn more >>


Here, There and Yonder

  • British Columbia celebrated in Victoria the election of Georges Murr as World Vice president
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  • LCS of BC | President's Message 2014‏:Our youth are the guarantee of the future of our Lebanese Canadian Society in BC.
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  • Vancouver artist Jayce Salloum wins Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts
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  • Leadership message written by Charles Malik,Offered to Alejandro Kuri,on his election as World President of WLCU
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  • Alejandro Kuri,the newly,elected World President of the WLCU,outlines his action plan
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Interviews & Profiles

  • Lebanese of Kfar Mishki waited in vain for `Titanic' payout (By ROBERT FISK)
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  • Oscars remind Lebanese family of uncle (Nicolas Nasrallah) who was `Titanic' hero
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Culture & Multiculturalism

  • Corporate Governance across Ethics, Culture & Citizenship: What to give and what to expect.
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  • Survival of written matters:Beings die, but their writings to help them survive.By Bahjat Rizk.
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  • Patriarchal system and individual freedoms, By Bahjat Rizk.
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  • A war that does not mean its name.Opinion of Bahjat Rizk- Around 13 April
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  • Zahi Haddad "Au Bonheur de Yaya" a new book on genealogy, nostalgia and catharsis
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  • Cheerful tales of displacement and loss.“Heritages”of Philippe Aractingi,“is an autobiographical novel in pictures.”
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Economy in Lebanon

  • Stress test on Lebanese banks asserts importance of liquidity, stress test as a precaution against future economic crisis in the region.
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  • Lebanon in 2013 lifts banking secrecy 17 times on accounts suspected of involvement in money laundering...
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  • Beirut designers are a cut above in Dubai’s Fashion Forward.
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Lebanese Emigration

  • Batroun village (HARDIN) remembers its own Titanic victims: the true love story of Anthony Yazbek and Selini Dagher
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  • Bekaa village (KFAR MESHKI ) remembers Lebanese Titanic victims:13 own Lebanese young men who died on board the ill-fated Titanic in 1912.
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  • It takes a Lebanese village(or the so-called Diman developers) to raise Halifax's skyline
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  • The Lebanese diaspora. A tale of two traders: Business people from Lebanon fare better abroad than at home.
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Roots and Wings

  • Mr Nassef Cassem Albimona (Abil mona)he was to bring a family friend, the 11 year old Master Houssein Hassan, to visit the boy's parents in America.
    Read more »
  • Stories of Lebanese on the Titanic – Part 1: Daher Abi Chedid from Ebrine
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  • Miss Banoura Ayoub Daher,boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg, as third class passenger.
    Read more »
  • Titanic: At least one of the victims was a Lebanese crew member: A.Mishellany
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Various Publications

  • John Smith Rule of Law Fellowship Programme 2014
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  • Discover one of the richest Lebanese Newsletter which is published in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Chinese
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WLCU Archives

  • From the 13 World Congress: a draft to outline the discussion about reforming the WLCU Media (Committee of Strategic Action)
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  • Basic Constitution and Internal Regulations adopted at the 9th World Congress in Sao Paolo Brazil,19 to 22 Octobre 1985(Arabic Copy).
    Read more »
  • Monthly Online WLCU NEWSLETTER, By Dr Georges Haddy.Issue of November 16-2002.
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United Nations(UN) News

  • The DPI/NGO Announcements for upcoming events at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
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  • The 65th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference will be held Wednesday, 27 August, to Friday, 29 August, 2014, at United Nations Headquarters, New York
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  • Contribute Your Experience To Planning the 65th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference
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