It was a day to celebrate our differences, and to make diversity a strength in the community.
Vernon’s Okanagan College held its second annual Multicultural Day Celebration on Wednesday, March 11. The event was formerly an Aboriginal Day celebration but was expanded last year to include all-comers.
“We don’t have to be the same to get along really well, but we do have to respect each other,” said event MC Jacquelyn Rose.
“I think events like this help to increase the level of respect that we have for different cultures, different belief systems, different foods, different perspectives.”
The day started off with a traditional welcome and opening prayer followed by First Nations hoop dancing by Okanagan College student Kristyn Schoenknecht.
Vernon Chidori-Kai dancer Rose Okazaki took to the Kal View Café floor to perform a Japanese dance, and a group led by student and Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) member Michael Ochoa treated onlookers to grass and jingle dancing.
Rounding out the festivities was a coastal fashion show by local artist Akira Hanson.
Groups from Syria, Germany, India, Zimbabwe and more set up tables to offer food traditional to their cultures, or to present information on cultural celebrations from around the world.
Students from local elementary schools got in on the fun, taking in the performances before heading to the library for some henna painting, drawing and cattail bracelet-making. OKIB’s Ruby Alexis held tule tip mat talks with kids, explaining the history and cultural significance of the mat-making process.
The celebration took place a day after the end of Holi festival, otherwise known as the Festival of Colours. In East Indian culture the festival marks the coming of spring. Wednesday’s festivities at the college concluded with a Holi closing celebration.
“Humans throughout the world are very diverse, we’re raised with different beliefs and different cultural practices,” said Rose in the midst of a busy schedule.
“It’s important to acknowledge that because that way we can celebrate our differences.”