Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Pacific-Islander-Heritage-MonthMayor Jackie Biskupski attended the fourth annual Pacific Islander Heritage Month kickoff where she presented a proclamation declaring August 2016 “Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Salt Lake City.” Below are her remarks:

Hello everyone, and welcome to the start of the 4th Annual Pacific Island Heritage month!

I’m truly honored to join you today as you begin your month long celebration of the unique individual cultures which comprise the Pacific Island community here in Salt Lake City and in Utah.

As you spend the next month celebrating your culture through art, dance, music, food, and storytelling, as well as share your history with your children and the greater community, please remember to celebrate the incredible mark you have made on the history of this city we call home.

Last week we celebrated Pioneer Day. We honored individuals who crossed the plains to settle this area. This month, take a moment to honor the pioneers—your ancestors—who crossed the sea to BUILD this great city.

We know residents from the Pacific Islands have been enriching this area for more than 140 years. We know it was Hawaiian stone and woodcutters who helped build the Salt Lake Temple and the downtown ZCMI department store, icons of Salt Lake City.

And we know the growth of the Pacific Islander community in Salt Lake City has continued right up through today, adding rich diversity in language, food, music, clothing, and family customs and traditions. You are also creating new traditions which bring our city together like the annual Turkey Bowl football game between Rose Park and Glendale…a pretty tough and bruising way to bring community together, but from what I saw this year, a great addition to our local culture.

As Mayor of Salt Lake City, my number one goal is to build a city for everyone. Your communities are a critical part of this goal. As I’ve already mentioned, you have been building our city from the very beginning, so who better to help build an inclusive city for the future.

We know people from the Pacific Islands represent one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in the United States, and that 1 in 4 Tongans in this country live in Utah. That is impressive.

Whether you’re ancestry is Tongan, Samoan, Hawaiian, Micronesian, Melanesian, or Polynesian, I want to assure you today, your voices are powerful. Your voices are valued.

My vision of an inclusive and welcoming City goes beyond merely hearing your voices; I am inviting you to lead conversations.

In the Mayor’s Office, you will find the most culturally diverse Community Empowerment team Salt Lake City has ever seen. Director Jennifer Seelig leads and mentors a team many of you already know. Moana Ulüave-Hafoka, Hilde Koenig, and Nate Salazar work full-time to reach out and to understand the concerns of our many diverse communities. They hear and respect you, as do I, but I rely on their expertise and skills to help increase your representation and contributions in Salt Lake City.

Our Coordinator for Diversity and Human Rights, Yolanda Francisco-Nez, may also be a familiar face and name. She works every day to ensure our policies and programs include everyone. Yolanda, too, gets out in our many communities and neighborhoods to hear your voices.

Today, I am asking you to help them do their jobs even better. Engage with them and engage with me. Without question, we are stronger together. We are all Islands in a Common Sea.

I am so proud to be the Mayor of Salt Lake City. We are a wonderfully diverse and culturally rich city. Let’s work together to bring our many cultures to the forefront and celebrate them.

The coming month will be a chance for all of us to enjoy music, food, art exhibits, and dance from our Pacific Island cultures. Thank you for all you bring to our community and for your abundance in sharing what you enjoy and love.

To help you celebrate this month, I would like to present a Mayoral Proclamation:


WHEREAS, Pacific Islanders began settling in the Salt Lake City area in 1875 and came in larger numbers after WWII; and

WHEREAS, Salt Lake City has one of the largest populations of Pacific Islanders—specifically Tongans and Samoans—in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the Pacific Islander community has played a key role in the development and building of Salt Lake City, and will continue to play a key role for generations; and

WHEREAS, Pacific Island Heritage Month celebrates, recognizes, and educates our city and state about the distinct cultural groups that make up the Pacific Islander community, unraveling stereotypes and building bridges through art, history, culture, and food; and

WHEREAS, Pacific Island Heritage Month shows the proud diversity of Salt Lake City and its many contributions from immigrants and communities of color.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Jacqueline M. Biskupski, Mayor of Salt Lake City, do hereby proclaim August 2016 as:

Pacific Island Heritage Month in Salt Lake City

AND encourage all residents to attend a Pacific Island Heritage Month event and learn about the distinct cultural groups comprising Salt Lake City’s Pacific Islander community.

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