Performance celebrates WWII victory

Updated: 2015-07-01 10:04

By RENA LI in Toronto(China Daily USA)

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The trials and tribulations the people of China endured during World War II have been the inspiration for an epic musical drama entitled Ode to Peace. It debuted on June 27 at the Living Arts Centre of Mississauga.

Beginning with a peaceful prologue titled Shang Hai, Shang Hai, the scene shifts to people left destitute and homeless by the invaders, the call to duty to fight back, a lament for the Yellow River to a call to defend the river.

The show is the culmination of a series of commemorative activities marking the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender, including historic photo exhibitions and seminars. The production brought together about 100 Chinese and Canadian community groups and more than over 600 volunteer performers.

"We cannot forget the war, as it is both our history and our identity," said Ouyang Yuansen, co-chair of show, which was co-hosted by the Canada Confederation of Fujian Association and Dreamland Performing Arts Centre. "Today marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the WWII. We are here to celebrate the victory together with people who love peace and justice."

"Outside of Asia, few people know about the length, breath and sheer savagery of what the Chinese suffered during WWII's Sino-Japanese campaign," said Bob Delaney, MPP for Mississauga-Streetsville.

"Through the exhibition and performance, Canadians have an opportunity to feel this desperate chapter of Asian history, grasp the relief from the liberation and share the joy of lasting peace with our Chinese Communities," he added.

The show also featured Canada's contributions in the Allied push on the Asia-Pacific front, including great efforts in the Battle of Hong Kong and transporting supplies by air over the Himalayan "Hump" to supply Chinese forces in the Sino-Japanese War.

Ode to Peace featured a dramatization of celebrated Canadian physician Norman Bethune saving lives on the battlefield. It also shows a documentary of 13 Chinese-Canadian soldiers on a secret mission called "Operation Oblivion", which was a major influence in persuading the Canadian government to grant Chinese Canadians full rights as citizens after the war.

"The show is intended to bring memories and history alive through performing arts created by Chinese Canadians here," said Zhang Jian, the co-chair of the event. "By showing Canada and China's contributions to the war, we hope to develop a sense of pride among the Canada's Chinese communities."

Senator Victor Oh, Chinese Consul General in Toronto Xue Bing and Canadian government officials attended the performance, as did representatives of Canadian and Chinese World War II veterans, such as Mark Fan, a 90-year-old gentleman who served in Burma from 1943 to 1945. All came to pay homage to those who fought and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The series of commemorative activities will last until mid December.