Opinion

Letter: The importance of multiculturalism

When I was running for Mayor three years ago, I spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of Cranbrook I wanted to live in, and to help create.  One of the most important aspects was a community that truly values and celebrates the arts and multi-culturalism.

Last August the Arts Council held its first Arts in the Park event and it is happening again next Saturday, August 23rd here in Rotary Park.  You are part of Cranbrook’s history by participating in our first ever multi-cultural festival!

It’s been an interesting progression.  The Ktunaxa First Nation, whose traditional territory we are standing on today, have been sharing their culture with us for a number of years through storytelling, drumming, dancing and singing.

The Metis, who have the second longest connection with the land in Canada, have been very active the last three years celebrating their heritage at City Hall and in the community – it’s impossible to keep your toes from tapping when the fiddlers are playing and the dancers jigging!

The Filipino community has also played an important role in the last two years, sharing their dances, their colorful fashions, their music and their food, along with celebrating their Independence Day.

It has been such a pleasure to get to know all of these great people and to learn more about their cultures. Why not bring them all together and encourage other citizens with an interest in their cultures to participate?

Early this year I got a phone call from Coco Seitz who had read in the newspaper of my interest in having a multi-cultural festival in Cranbrook.  She asked to have a meeting.  When we sat down she presented me with a detailed proposal for a festival.  We came up with a list of people to contact, a meeting was held, a Society formed, fund raising commenced and today, due to a lot of hard work that I cannot take any credit for at all, we are celebrating Cranbrook’s first ever multi-cultural festival featuring a dozen cultures:

1. Chinese

2. Japanese

3. Korean

4. Indian

5. Filipino

6. Italian

7. Dutch

8. South African

9. Vietnamese

10. Ktunaxa

11. Metis

12. Canadian

Having a festival like this is important from many aspects:

1. It enriches our community – you’ll see today how many ways it does that.

2. It makes a clear statement that Cranbrook is a welcoming place to live.

3.  It contributes to promoting tourism and the economy.

4. It makes us more interesting and fun as a city.

So are we done – No, we are just beginning.  We are celebrating 12 cultures – there are 196 countries in the world if you include Taiwan – so yes, there is definitely room for growth, and there will be even bigger festivals in the future!!

Thank you to all of you who made this festival happen and for those of you who are here to enjoy the day.  For me, this really is a dream come true.

 

~Mayor Wayne Stetski,

City of Cranbrook

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