Showcasing Culture in Yorkton
In this issueEngage - Volume 7, Issue 3, Fall/Winter 2017
A fundamental principle of kindness is a respect for people and diversity. A local Saskatchewan festival is working to promote these values.
Edith Montesclaros, a newcomer, and Settlement Senior Supervisor, Yorkton Newcomer Welcome Centre, says celebrating multiculturalism is one of the most important aspects of living in a community. “Yorkton’s Festival of Cultures gives newcomers like me a venue to show local residents what my culture is about. There's many things that newcomers can offer to the community.”
Known as the largest multicultural event in the region, the festival’s main objectives are to show the commonalities and uniqueness of cultures in the Yorkton area. Montesclaros says, “The festival also provides newcomers with a venue to proudly showcase their cultures. It also provides the opportunity to show local residents that multiculturalism, acceptance, diversity, and inclusion thrives in the region.”
She adds, “There’s been a substantial yearly increase in attendance and last year we sold out all 600 tickets. Children are allowed to attend for free, so in total, we had close to 1,200 people attending this past year. We're even getting people coming in from Manitoba.”
According to Montesclaros, the Yorkton Festival of Cultures, which was founded in 2011, highlights the cultures of newcomers and established groups in the east-central Saskatchewan region.
The one-day festival, an event held by the Yorkton Newcomer Welcome Centre and affiliated with the Saskatchewan Abilities Council, is made possible by SaskCulture’s Multicultural Initiatives Fund, and occurs every November in the region. Always held on a Sunday, it coincides with the province’s Multicultural Week events, which take place annually, during the week of November 22nd.
“Yorkton’s Festival of Cultures gives newcomers like me a venue to show local residents what my culture is about. There's many things that newcomers can offer to the community.”
Originally, the festival focused on established cultural groups and newcomers in the Yorkton region. “Each group has a booth that showcases a different aspect of culture in the area,” Montesclaros explains. “Some of them sell food, showcase cultural artifacts, traditional wares, or music. The politics of different areas are also showcased and we encourage people to talk about what happens in their countries. Last year we had 16 cultures represented, and for a small community that's pretty impressive”
She adds, “There are so many things that we would like to share. And the festival is a positive, venue that welcomes everyone.”