Learning the languages of Red Deer

Hosted by Central Alberta Refugee Effort

People were introduced to 16 of the languages spoken by Central Albertans at an International Mother Language Day event at Collicutt Centre on Saturday.

Organized by Central Alberta Refugee Effort, the second annual celebration of local languages gave people an opportunity to visit language booths where volunteers could teach them a few words and answer questions about their culture.

Sadia Khan, CARE’s public awareness program co-ordinator, said last year about 200 people attended International Mother Language Day and hopefully it will become an annual event.

“It’s a great opportunity to share our cultural diversity in Red Deer and to show the diversity of languages that people speak in our community,” said Polish language volunteer Elzbieta Sawicka.

“It opens the door for people to become more familiar with where people come from.”

Providing the chance to learn about different cultures can also help to address misconceptions people may have, she said.

Since arriving 27 years ago, Sawicka said she has seen Red Deer and Central Alberta develop a richness of culture as more people from other countries have made the area their new home.

Mother Language Day is also about being proud of your own heritage and sharing it with others, said Sawicka who had Polish children’s books on display.

When children visited her booth she told them about the castles in Poland that they would visit on school field trips if they lived in that country.

Spanish language volunteer Edali Reyes said people have a lot of questions about the items from Mexico, like the tortilla maker, she had on display at her booth.

She said Canada really is a multicultural country so it’s important to know a bit about every culture.

Reyes came to Red Deer eight months ago and has been in Canada for eight years.

“I felt really welcome when I came and that helps a lot because everything is new for us — language, culture — you left everything in your country. So when you feel welcome it’s much easier and we appreciate that a lot.”

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