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First multicultural festival in the works

Organizers look for participants to showcase their culture on June 27

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Whistler may have the fastest sliding centre, a beautiful Nordic facility, and a top-notch athletes' centre but there is no tangible legacy of multiculturalism from the 2010 Olympic Games.

That's according to the Whistler Forum's William Roberts, who urged people to think back to just over a year ago when the whole world was in Whistler, celebrating sport but also the spirit of global community.

"That was Whistler at its finest, and yet we haven't heard much about a legacy in Whistler of multiculturalism and internationalism," he said at a meeting held this week to plan a new multicultural celebration this coming summer.

On June 27, for the first time ever, Whistler will celebrate Canadian Multiculturalism Day with flair. The day was proclaimed by the federal government almost ten years ago to celebrate Canada's diverse society.

"What we're trying to do is establish the first multicultural festival in the corridor," said Roberts.

"It's going to hinge on getting authentic locals... and for them to bring that rich diversity to a very celebratory festival."

Some of that rich Whistler diversity was represented at Monday's meeting. China, Portugal, the Philippines, Quebec, Italy, the Dominican Republic and the Czech Republic were among the cultures represented in the 25 people who attended the meeting.

Ideas discussed ranged from having food demonstrations on the day with recipes and tips to where to shop. Other plans involved showcasing health and wellness from other cultures such as reiki and shiatsu demonstrations, and including children with interactive arts and crafts and games.

While it seems like a large task at hand, festival planner Nicole Guertin said this is positive step forward for Whistler in two ways.

"It starts raising awareness and building the self-esteem of the multicultural community," she said.

She also pointed to the opportunity of engaging the multicultural community and then extending that engagement to bring visitors to Whistler - a point, she said, that is missing from Whistler's new Cultural Tourism Strategy.

Guertin said if people knew there was locals who spoke their language and could help them navigate Whistler, they might be more likely to travel here.

"Whistler has such a huge opportunity," she said.

While Whistler's other festivals - the film festival, the ski and snowboard festival, the mountain biking festival, the wine festival and others - have big bucks and sponsors to prop them up, the multiculturalism festival will be a grassroots initiative.

"This is all on a shoestring and a prayer," said Roberts.

That's why organizers are looking for people to participate and showcase their culture.

To learn more contact Nicole Guertin at nicole@lokl.com or by phone at 604-907-4922. All are welcome to attend the next planning meeting in early May. Stay tuned to Pique for more information. Or check out the Facebook page Whistler Multicultural Celebration.

 

 

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