By Sean Wei Mah
The June 27, Multicultural Day festivities began with a prayer by Aboriginal Elder Eva Baretti who lit the braid of sweetgrass and invited all to join with her in prayer. Eva explained “With all that goes on around us, and all that we see, I hope we all can come to reality of what we are all about.” Eva’s message was followed by the Praying Mantis Kung Fu Society’s exciting Lion Dance; a dance to bring courage, integrity, strength and good luck to all. Weaving in through the crowds, this lion displayed the grace and form symbolic of martial arts, drawing spectators in for this noon hour celebration. Speakers included the Director of Canadian Heritage, City Councilor Terry Cavanaugh, and Highland’s MLA Brian Mason whom all came to celebrate with multicultural day speeches. Most memorable speech came from Terry Cavanaugh who began by quoting a Chinese proverb “If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be Peace in the World.” The next cultural performance was by Classical Guitarist George Ali, graduate of several music schools, who delighted the crowd with his flamenco song. After listening to the classical composition, the noon hour did not seem long enough to enjoy extended performances by all the talented artists. The final speaker was special guest Dr. Sultana Qureshi, a 23 year old medical doctor. She explained her secret to overcoming racism and discrimination was “1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” which she says is basically maintaining a positive attitude in the face of adversity. Dr. Qureshi, told her story of growing up in a small town, experiencing racism as a Muslim girl. She explained “It is important to not ignore the solution, and not harbor hatred, having a negative attitude can be draining, and no fun at all.” Her outlets for overcoming racism included wining an anti-racism poster contest, founding a multicultural youth magazine entitled “Rainbow,” and taking a positive action for each negative incident. Dr, Qureshi closed with a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Following her speech was a performance by the Global Hand Drummers, whose sound and rhythm was amazing. Closing the celebration was a group performance by all musicians, including the Pepper Seed Orchestra. This was the perfect ending to the Multicultural Day Celebration at Canada Place (not including the free cake).
Organizations in attendance included: Madelaine Sanaam Foundation, Action fro Healthy Communities, Heritage Communities Foundation, Society of Friends of The Ukrainian Folklore Centre, Canada World Youth, Edmonton Immigrant Services Association, Service d’accueil et d’establissment, Indian & Northern Affairs, A Centre For Immigrant Women “Changing Together,” International & Heritage Languages Association (IHLA), Alliance Jeunesse Famile de l’Alberta Society (AJFAS), Acces’ Emploi, Canadian Arab Friendship Association (CAFA), Northern Alberta Alliance on Race Relations (NAARR), Edmonton Police Services, Canadian Armed Forces, Black Pioneer Descendants Society, Vision Images.