Youth have an opportunity to showcase their culture and learn about other cultures during Global Fusion Festival on July 21 at Giovanni Caboto Park. The festival, part of Canada 150, is meant to empower youth and bring cultures together.
Ahmed Abdulkadir, executive director of the Ogaden Somali Community of Alberta (OSCAR) and one of the festival facilitators, said, “We have a lot of hate, but the youth are saying ‘we’re here to promote love.’ ”
Global Fusion started because of a conversation about cross-cultural development and questioning how youth can be more engaged and lead that process.
“We want to empower them and motivate them,” Abdulkadir said. Although Global Fusion is focused on youth, anyone is welcome to attend.
Taro Hashimoto, the other festival facilitator and a community development officer with E4C, said people are disconnected from cultural groups.
“If your kids are interacting and sharing, they will lead the way,” said Hashimoto.
Festival organizers, most of them youth themselves, all have hopes for the outcome.
Selassie Drah, festival organizer and a member of the Sangea Africa Performance Group, said cultural awareness is crucial.
“Youth voice is important,” he said. “Every culture has something to contribute. No culture is a subculture.”
Anita Sayaphet, festival organizer and a dancer, said she wants to get the Lao community involved, engage Lao youth, and diminish prejudices. She wants people to build relationships with people from other cultures.
Nigel Robinson, festival organizer and co-founder of Global Indigenous Youth Committee, said Global Fusion emphasizes the importance in “being welcome in each other’s spaces.”
Organizers planned the festival layout like a pow wow circle. At the centre is the stage, with tents from each culture/performer surrounding the stage. Tents from community organizations will be arranged in a circle surrounding the performers’ tents.
“The design of the festival is meant to connect with, learn, and share with others,” said Hashimoto.
Organizers are featuring a variety of different cultures, including indigenous culture.
“We respect the culture of Treaty 6 territory and share our cultures as well,” Abdulkadir said.
Only one performance will happen at a time.
“Every culture will have their moment,” Abdulkadir explained.
Performances will include singing, drama, dancing, storytelling, and poetry, with the performers telling the audience about its cultural significance beforehand.
Abdulkadir said Global Fusion helps youth learn about different cultures and break stereotypical beliefs.
“The best way to discount racism is to have this kind of event,” said Abdulkadir.
Youth ages 13 to 29 will be the performers.
“We’re sending invites to schools, organizations, and the community,” said Abdulkadir, explaining they are inviting youth groups to join them as well as organizations that serve youth.
There will be individual performances until 6 pm. After that, a concert featuring local artists and previous performers will run for the remainder of the time. Festival goers can participate in educational cultural games, help create a collaborative art project, visit art displays and vendors, and find information on topics such as anti-bullying and mental health issues.
July 21, noon to 10 pm
Giovanni Caboto Park
109 Avenue and 94 Street
Featured Image: Festival planners (left to right): Anita Sayaphet, Charlotte Nyoungou, Selassie Drah, Ned Staples, and Nigel Robinson. | Talea Medynski