At a recent Multicultural Festival, hosted at Fairview Junior High School, students and teachers got to know more about the world they live in. Our YMCA School Settlement staff and participants helped to organize the event.

The festivities began with a delicious feast of cuisine from all around the globe. The international students each picked a dish or a dessert from their country, and brought it in for the staff and  students to try.

With everyone’s bellies full and after exchanging some recipes, the staff and students headed down to the gymnasium to watch a variety of student performances by students, teachers, and special guests. Performances included a student/teacher group of African drummers, an around-the-globe fashion show, traditional dances performed by a group of Greek students, and a group of self-taught Bollywood dancers from a nearby elementary school.

At the end of each performance, students in the audience erupted in applause and cheers – the reception was so overwhelmingly positive that it left many watching with chills. The students were so supportive of each other, helping the performers be even more proud of their heritage.

 The student presentation portion of the assembly concluded with a student-made video, which showcased students highlighting their home-nation to the tune of the Canadian national anthem. Each time the clip changed to new group of students, the crowd erupted into cheers.

After a final round of applause, the Fairview Junior High School principal, Mr. Wicha, came up and spoke about the importance of educating each other on different nationalities. An immigrant himself, Mr. Wicha was able to discuss the importance of accepting all nationalities, and being respectful of the differences in cultures.

Mr. Wicha also credited the YMCA School Settlement Program for being able to help students make the transition as smooth as possible.

“This to me is much more important – in some cases – than the stuff you have in your books right now, in terms of math, or social studies, or sciences,” says Mr. Wicha. “It’s all important, but this is the unwritten curriculum of cultural diversity and celebration of who we are. Some people that have lived here all their whole life do not understand what they have in front of them. They haven’t lived that life yet where things are taken away, and you don’t have the freedom, or the food, or the clothes, or respect, or basically any rights.”

The Multicultural Festival was a great reminder of how fortunate we all are to live in such an accepting country, whether we’ve lived in Canada our whole lives or call it our new home.