The world is coming to Coquitlam’s doorstep.
On Saturday (July 8), dozens of global performers and guests will land at Town Centre Park to sing, dance and talk about their homelands at the second annual Multicultural Connections Festival.
Organized by the Low Entropy Foundation, a non-profit group that works with immigrants in the Tri-Cities to build community, the celebrations take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. by Lafarge Lake.
“Our aim is to make a difference in people’s lives, especially those who are new to Canada, and break down barriers,” said Noemi Victorino, the foundation’s director of fund development.
And a good way to make connections is to showcase talents and gifts, said Maple Lee, who will oversee the Welcome to Canada segments from 11:20 a.m. to noon.
Lee is featuring seven former and current students in LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada), a federally funded program — based at the Vanier Centre in Coquitlam and run by SD43's Coquitlam Continuing Education — that aims to help immigrants learn English and to prepare for Canadian citizenship.
Many of them, she said, “are struggling with their day-to-day life in Canada, especially finding affordable housing. Many left traumatic situations at home. Here, we are giving them a platform to allow them to use their voices that have been suppressed.”
Lee’s Welcome to Canada event will start with a fashion show of ethnically inspired pieces, including a four-layer hanbok from Christina Kim of Korea; the mother-of-three grown children has lived in Coquitlam for seven years.
Alex Makhavkina, who emigrated from Ukraine last August and is now engaged to a Mexican student in the LINC program, is doing a solo of a Russian song.
“I love to sing and share my voice to make people happy,” she told the Tri-City News before a rehearsal.
“I want to give my thanks to Canada because I wasn’t safe in Ukraine. I don’t plan to go back there.”
“Canada is very beautiful and the people are very nice. There are kind and polite. The government is kind,” added Pani Firouzi, 33, a native of Northeast Iran who will also be part of the Welcome to Canada fete.
Sponsored in part by the Tri-City News, the festival will open with Jane Wylie, an Indigenous hoop and jingle dancer, and close with Celtic music courtesy of Prairie Wolf and Tim Readman.
As well, more than 70 vendors and non-profit groups will be on site plus 14 food trucks.
For more details, go to lowentropy.org. Admission to the Multicultural Connections Festival is free.