Statement from the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival November 13, 2023

Monday, November 13, 2023

This statement is being issued in order to address an incident that occurred at our festival back in June 2019.

On Saturday June 22, 2019, Mr. Gerry Smith was a Falun Gong practitioner who was part of a Falun Gong group situated in Mooney’s Bay Park, outside the Festival, peacefully doing Falun Gong exercises and giving flyers to interested passersby. During the afternoon, Mr. Smith entered the Festival grounds to buy lunch for a boy he was babysitting. They sat down at one of our picnic tables inside the Festival. Already seated at the picnic table was John Brooman, CEO of the Festival.  Mr. Smith was wearing a shirt that stated “Falun Dafa is Good” on it. This was the same shirt worn by the practitioners of Falun Gong who were exercising outside of the Festival. At some point, Mr. Brooman and Mr. Smith engaged in a conversation and Mr. Brooman asked Mr. Smith to remove his shirt with the words "Falun Dafa is Good" on it. Mr. Smith complied with the request.

The Festival apologizes to Mr. Smith for asking him to remove his Falun Dafa shirt. The Festival has a policy of equity, inclusion and diversity and welcomes all attendees from every race, religion, ethnicity and creed. All people, including Falun Gong practitioners, are welcome to the Festival.

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