A World of Diversity on a Small Stage
In this issueEngage - Volume 8, Issue 2 Fall 2018
Introducing culturally diverse performances to a wider audience who may not otherwise get the opportunity to experience these activities, can be challenging for many organizations. Overcoming this challenge is why the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCoS) partnered with the Saskatchewan Writers Guild (SWG) to present Little Stories on the Prairie to audiences at this year’s SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival in Saskatoon. In its fourth year, the event was part of the Canadian Multiculturalism Day celebrations held on June 27, 2018.
Rhonda Rosenberg, executive director, MCoS, said the partnership was great. “It’s good to partner with existing events such as the Jazz Festival and the Regina Farmer’s Market that have all kinds of people come out to them.”
Rosenberg continues, “Sometimes it’s just people walking by or they come hang out for a bit. They might not stay the entire time. They take in what they want and that’s great.” She goes on to describe the event as an opportunity for audiences to hear different perspectives and look at cultural diversity from a deeper lens. “When artists perform spoken word or poetry or read from what they’ve written, they’re sharing more deeply of their experiences, or of the cultural context that they live in.”
One such performer, spoken word poet Ahmad Majid, performed at the Jazz Festival as a result of this partnership. Majidis, an Iraqi-Canadian who has lived in the Middle East and has lived in Canada for most of his life, says his poetry is more “socially focussed.” He uses his work to build bridges and “humanize the situation.”
“Yes, we have different cultures, different ways of doing things. But at the end of the day, we essentially want the same thing – peace, happiness, posterity, opportunities for our kids. We all want the same thing.” ~ Ahmad Majid
He adds, “There’s a big problem with our society these days. We feel so divided. So when you feel divided and you feel the other person or the other group is not like you or unrelatable to you, you overlook some of the discrimination that goes on, and the injustice that goes on. My whole goal is to make us seem more alike than different.
“Yes, we have different cultures, different ways of doing things. But at the end of the day, we essentially want the same thing – peace, happiness, posterity, opportunities for our kids. We all want the same thing.”
Majid also does hip-hop rhyming and says members of the audience who saw him reacted quite positively. “Lots of my work is intertwined with rhymes. Maybe that’s why it was a little bit easier for the (Jazz Festival audience) to fall in to. There are definitely elements of hip-hop in my work, for sure.”
This past year also featured: spoken word artist and actor, Peace Akintade; Janelle “ecoaborijanelle” Pewapsconias, a spoken word artist from Little Pine First Nation; Mexican-American slam poet Sandi Martinez; and musical guest, Jebunnessa Chapola and her Bangla Team.