Canadian envoy rocks and rolls

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UPDATED: He sports an earring, took contact before arriving in Norway with his husband and now, a year-and-a-half later, is ready to rock and roll at upcoming Oslo Pride events that promote equality regardless of sexual preference. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported this week how Canadian Ambassador Artur Maks Wilczynski has formed a rock band that will play at the embassy’s own pride party in June.

Canadian Ambassador Artur Maks Wilczynski in more formal attire at a reception at the Norwegian Parliament earlier this year. PHOTO: Stortinget

Canadian Ambassador Artur Maks Wilczynski, photographed at a reception at the Norwegian Parliament earlier this year. PHOTO: Stortinget

“We all love music, music brings people together,” Wilczynski told NRK in a video published on the state broadcaster’s website. “What better way to symbolize diplomacy than actually by playing music together under this beautiful sunny sky here in Oslo?”

After days on end of pouring rain, and flooding in some areas, the sun finally came out in Southern Norway, and with Wilczynski on drums, his “hobby orchestra” headed outdoors to practice. The band includes his spouse Randall William Stocker, a few friends and another top diplomat from the US Embassy on guitar.

They played a mix of music featuring, not surprisingly, songs by Canada’s own legendary Neil Young. The rehearsals are part of their warm-up for the annual Pride events in Oslo in June, where embassies have promoted gay pride with rainbow-coloured decorations. This year’s Oslo Pride week runs from June 17-26 (external link to information and the program).

The video, with Norwegian subtitles, also features Canada’s young prime minister, Justin Trudeau, describing him as a political rock star of sorts and comparing his family to the Obamas in the US. It also addresses the friendly but sometimes ambivalent relations between Canada and the US. The ambassador and members of the band seemed most keen to stress their musical form of diplomacy.

“I think it’s important for us to, wherever we can, use our voices to promote equality of all human beings,” Wilczynski told NRK.

NRK unfortunately removed the original version of its video from its website, nrk.no, but substituted a shorter version that can be seen here. It’s presented in the form of NRK’s own “teaser” (unusually written in English) for its foreign affairs program Urix on Thursday, during which a story on the Canadian ambassador and his band will be aired.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund