Community Cultural Celebration Pot Luck was held at the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Centre on Nov. 22 where Williams Lake celebrated its unique blend of cultural heritage.
The event was facilitated by the Multiculturalism Program of the Canadian Mental Health Association in partnership with the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy.
First held last year, the potluck was a very small but still a wonderful gathering. This year, however, was a different story altogether. The Graham Kelsey Room at the Arts Centre was barely enough room to house everyone who attended this year’s potluck. The people just kept coming.
Now organizers (myself) Al-Lisa McKay and Maryna Muzyka are looking to book a larger venue for next year’s event.
We are such a beautiful bouquet of field flowers here in Canada, so much diversity and culture. To have events where our individual ancestral heritage is showcased and represented is important as we all move towards deeper understanding, appreciation and inspiration that our different backgrounds bring to this new paradigm.
From India to Pakistan to the Canadian west to Mexico and elsewhere, the potluck was rich with the aroma of ethnic spices, cultural stories, recipes, dances, music, families and friends of all ages.
The evening started off with the doors opening at 5:30 p.m. where people could sip on an ancient recipe of hot chai made by Deva Khurana, whose father hailed from Kullu India. The perfume of all of those exotic spices coming from Deva’s chai pot was heavenly and filled the entire Arts Centre.
A welcoming by Mary Thomas and dinner prayer by Rolland Harry was our gateway to the evening.
Dinner was at 6 p.m. and was partially catered by Fabiola’s Mexican Food and Oceanas Bannock. There seemed to be just enough food to feed the masses and that was a definite thanks to these yummy caterers.
The performances began around 7:30 p.m. as David Jose of Mexico serenaded us with mystical songs and instruments of Mexico, Carmen Mutschele had us swooning and centred with stories and songs from Germany as well as led us in a sing-along.
Roman Thomas and Mary Thomas shared some history and songs of the fiddle in relation to the Secwepemc culture.
Jerry and Irene Charley drove all the way from Kamloops to perform Secwepemc storytelling. They also had a table of some of their carvings and First Nations Art to share. These two are always a delightful mixture of humour and wisdom.
Francis and Alida Johnson from Alkali Lake shared a performance of profound cultural drumming and hoop dancing, which had the crowd whipped into a lather of joy and inspiration.
There were some impromptu cultural musical sharing from some children who attended which was a delightful bonus.
The evening ended with Francis Johnson leading us in a round dance and a prayer from Rolland Harry.
I would like to give a special thanks to the following:
To the Arts Centre for entrusting us to use the space.
Eva and Robyn of the Women’s Contact Society for setting up an information booth and manning the front door so eloquently.
Mary Forbes for sweeping in and saving the day with her recycling expertise and jovial presence.
The crew who stayed behind to help clean the space and put it back together.
And of course, to all who came because, without you, it would have been quite a different event. Your presence and participation were perfect.
We are looking forward to seeing you at next year’s celebration. We hope to pique your curiosity about your own ancestral cultural roots, and instill a sense of appreciation for the diversity that you are as well as the diversity in your midst.
Diversity is the spice of life.
A healthy community is a community that cares about one another.
As Bob Marley sang: “One love, one heart. Let’s get together and feel alright.”
Al-Lisa McKay is the Multicultural Coordinator of CMHA.