Red Deer’s cultural diversity was celebrated with food, dancing and the making of new friends on Saturday.
Jan Underwood, public awareness co-ordinator for the Central Alberta Refugee Effort (CARE), said the Cultural Mosaic Celebration was created to bring cultures together locally, but also to draw attention to racism.
March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The date was chosen to remember the Sharpeville Massacre on March 21, 1960 when South African police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid laws.
Underwood said they wanted to organize an event to bring people together.
“The idea is to get everybody mixing, meeting new people, new friends.
‘ºAnd hopefully, the ultimate end is to try and eliminate, or at least lessen racism.”
Mayor Morris Flewwelling drew a big round of applause when he announced in opening comments that city council had recently voted to join the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination.
It is a UNESCO-led initiative calling on Canadian municipalities to be part of a larger international coalition of cities to combat racism.
Zara Mazhar said events like this allow cultures to mingle and learn each other’s customs and traditions.
“I think that’s really important, living in a multicultural community or society, so I think it’s a really neat idea to have some shows or festivals like that.”
Mazhar said she has found Red Deerians very receptive to learning about her culture.
Mazhar, who is studying social work at Red Deer College, came to Canada four years ago from Pakistan with her parents and a brother and sister.
Gloricel Cayago, who came from the Philippines with her family five years ago, said these kinds of events show people who diverse the culture has become in the last few years.
“It’s really amazing that we can show all our different cultures,” she said. “It’s more cultural awareness for the community,” said Cayago, who works for CARE.
Martha Cortes, multicultural outreach co-ordinator for Golden Circle Seniors Resource Centre, said her main focus is to make contact with seniors who have immigrated to Canada.
Often, they spend their days doing household chores in their children’s homes and don’t get as many opportunities to get out and meet others.
Golden Circle has a number of programs to provide exercise and entertainment. There is even a program to cover household chores for seniors so they can get out.