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'Never forget your roots': Lebanese levee a celebration of culture

A belly dancer mingles with the crowd at the Lebanese levee Saturday night at the Delta Prince Edward Hotel. (Stacey Janzer/CBC - image credit)
A belly dancer mingles with the crowd at the Lebanese levee Saturday night at the Delta Prince Edward Hotel. (Stacey Janzer/CBC - image credit)

The Lebanese community has been firmly entrenched on P.E.I. for several decades, but as one member says, they never forget their roots.

Lebanese traditions were on full display Saturday night at the Delta Prince Edward Hotel during the 61st annual levee.

More than 700 people in P.E.I. identify as being of Lebanese descent, according to the 2021 census.

Nick Tweel, an organizer and member of the Canadian Lebanese Association, says events like the levee are important not just to welcome people from outside the Lebanese community, but to remind the younger generations of Lebanese descent of their roots.

The Lebanese levee has been held on P.E.I. for 61 years.
The Lebanese levee has been held on P.E.I. for 61 years.

More than 700 people in P.E.I. identify as being of Lebanese descent, according to the 2021 census. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Amelia Jabbour.
Amelia Jabbour.

Amelia Jabbour. (Hennessey Cutcliffe Charlottetown Funeral Home)

"We just want to make sure that we stay close," Tweel said.

"For the new generations coming in … we want to remind them of where our parents came from and keep our roots strong, right. Never, never forget your roots."

The levee was held just two days after the death of 96-year-old Amelia Jabbour, one of the matriarchs of the Lebanese community. Jabbour and her late husband, Joseph founded Papa Joe's Restaurant in 1988.

A moment of silence was held for Jabbour and others from the Lebanese community who died in the past year.

Traditional Lebanese food is always a big part of the levee. It is all made by members of the community — "just like our moms and our dads used to cook for us for many years," Tweel said.

The event also featured traditional belly dancers, music and dancing.

Traditional Lebanese food was prepared by members of the community.
Traditional Lebanese food was prepared by members of the community.

Traditional Lebanese food was prepared by members of the community. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)