Music can bring people together.
That was the message at a community drum circle, called Drumming From the Four Directions, hosted by the Urban Aboriginal Voices Society and the Central Alberta Refugee Effort at Festival Hall on Friday.
“We have music from the eastern direction, the south, the west and the north. Then we’re going to drum together and make beautiful community harmony,” said Tanya Ward-Schur, the society’s community facilitator.
“This is really our way of creating a safe space to look at diversity and inclusion, and to work on eradicating racism in a peaceful and powerful way.”
Ward-Schur said it’s important for communities to have “difficult conversations about conflict and difference, without being so argumentative, because that isn’t going to change anything.”
It’s especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been a difficult time for many, she added.
“We need to understand our equality in the circle of life and work together, because we’re all in this together. We’re living on a small planet in a tricky time and we need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of all cultures. If we move forward with peace and understanding, it’s possible,” said Ward-Schur.
“First, we need to understand there is a problem. I think that in many places, maybe Red Deer included, we’ve sort of said, ‘We’re welcoming and inclusive. It’s pretty nice here.’ It’s easy to say until you see it isn’t that way.”
Face coverings were mandatory at the event, which was part of Alberta Culture Days. There was also physical distancing requirements in place and hand sanitization stations available.
Angie Chinguwo, the refugee effort’s public awareness co-ordinator, said a major part of the day was to make sure everyone was having fun.
“The importance of (this event) is to bring different cultures together and just to celebrate in the same space, while getting to know what other cultures are about,” said Chinguwo.
“I think this is important, considering what’s happening in Red Deer, what’s happening in Canada and all around the world. Getting together, building community and doing things that brings people together is really important.”
There will be a second event featuring dance and drumming presentations on Saturday at Festival Hall. A limited number of people will be allowed inside the venue for the event, which will be live streamed online at www.facebook.com/AboriginalCommunityInvolvement from 2 to 4 p.m.