Outdoor festival highlights city’s vibrant diversity
Over a thousand people celebrated Gatineau’s cultural diversity with live music and dance performances in Parc Moussette during the city’s 19th Cultural Diversity Day (Journée gatinoise de la diversité Culturelle) on August 13. The outdoor festival featured a wide range of musicians and artists, along with stands and kiosks from local restaurants, businesses and organizations representing over 20 different countries of origin.
Deputy Mayor and Municipal Councillor for the l’Orée-du-Parc district Isabelle Miron underscored in her opening remarks Gatineau’s significance as the city with the second largest number of immigrants in Quebec outside of Montreal, “We are a city that is rich with diversity and we can see that here today,” she said. “Many immigrants choose to make Gatineau their home and we are very happy about this. Today’s celebration brings Gatineau’s diversity to the forefront.” She noted that 227 different cultural communities are represented in Gatineau and that 16% of the city’s population are immigrants and 4% are Indigenous.
The event began with a show for children and families in the morning followed by 10 half-hour artistic performances in the afternoon and early evening. The performances opened with First Nations’ hoop dancing, followed by traditional music and dance from Indonesia, Bulgaria, Mexico, Burundi, Syria, Colombia, Cuba and other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. Over 28 local organizations and businesses set up shop throughout the day, including food stands from 10 different countries. Children also enjoyed face painting, cotton candy, bouncy castles, and arts and crafts workshops with Cube Culturel throughout the day.
“I’ve been a resident here for 12 years and this event really reinforces a sense of belonging and the feeling that I’m in the right place. We sometimes take our diversity for granted, but this can’t be found in every corner of the globe. It’s important to provide opportunities where talent can be highlighted and people of different backgrounds can learn from one another,” said event MC Javier Clavelo Robinson.
Event organizer and Cultural Community Officer Louis Patrick Comeau highlighted the festival’s key role in building relationships between the city and its diverse communities, but said it is also part of a larger process, “Enhancing and highlighting diversity in our community is really an ongoing process, not just an event. The purpose is to create a real sense of belonging. It is not just about living in a place but also expressing and sharing what your culture brings to the city – being able to express oneself and to exchange with others are fundamental tools for integration.”
Cultural Diversity Day is held every second Sunday of August. For more information and questions about next year’s festival, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo 1 caption: Aztlán Ballet performing Mexican traditional dance.
Photo credit: Greg Newing
Photo 2 caption: Ishaka performing dance from Burundi.
Photo credit: Greg Newing