L’Association des Francophones et Francophiles du Nord-Ouest (The Northwest Association of Francophones and Francophiles, or AFFNO) along with the Museum of Northern BC hosted their first multicultural celebration of winter festivals from around the world, which they hope will become an annual event after this year.
The event was held last Saturday in the ceremonial room at the back of the museum and gathered a crowed of at least 50 people who wanted to explore the different winter traditions of the cultural groups that make up Prince Rupert.
While there are many different cultural communities in Prince Rupert, this event only had four of them largely because of time restraints in the planning process. According to Patrick Witwicki from AFFNO, the group practically threw the event together with only two months to go from the idea for it to making it a reality.
The four cultures that were showcased was French, Tsimshian First Nation, Portuguese and Norwegian. Each culture set up a display in the venue to show participants the different aspects of their culture’s winter celebrations, such as crafts and decorations. There was also supposed to be participation by the Indo-Canadian community, but they had to cancel.
But the real crowd pleaser was the food.
Each culture had brought samples of the different winter treats from each culture. The Tsimshian table had fried bread and soap berries to try, the French and Portuguese tables had pastries. And while the Norwegian table didn’t have Lutefisk (fish preserved by soaking it in lye) which is apparently a winter tradition in Norway but they did have many other treats for people to try.
Each group was also given time to stand up in front of the crowd and explain how their culture became part of Prince Rupert and to show what their Christmas-time traditions are.
For the First Nations portion, a troupe of dancers and drummers performed Gwiisamlilk Giigolth mask dancing from long ago for the crowd. During the French portion Pierrot Fillion sang the song Lesétoiles Filantes while playing his acoustic guitar.
Witwicki says that he considers the event a success. The event was funded largely by grant money from the Citizenship and Immigration department of the Federal government. He’s hoping that this will become a yearly event and that more than just four groups will participate next year.
“We are definitely interested in doing this again. Now that we’ve done one, we’re confident more cultural associations will want to participate next year,” says Witwicki.