Penticton gets new multicultural festival

Ariel Sebastian leads the way as she and her sisters perform a traditional Philippine dance in a scene from a previous multicultural festivals in Penticton,  show the diversity of the local culture.  - Steve Kidd/Western News
Ariel Sebastian leads the way as she and her sisters perform a traditional Philippine dance in a scene from a previous multicultural festivals in Penticton, show the diversity of the local culture.
— image credit: Steve Kidd/Western News

Penticton has been without a multicultural festival for a few years, but it is back this February, and in a big way.

“We feel there is a definite hole missing in celebrating multiculturalism,” said Kerri Milton, executive director of the Downtown Penticton Association, which is working with Welcoming Communities on the month-long OneWorld Penticton festival.

“What we think really celebrates culture in a community is events and getting people together and being part of a bigger community,” said Milton. “I was expecting one full day with an evening thing and it just went, it got a life of its own.”

Nora Hunt-Haft, from Welcoming Communities, describes their goal as raising the bar for how the community attracts and sustains newcomer Canadians. They are part, she explained, of South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services, which works to support newcomers.

“But this is the other side of the coin. How are we doing as a community as a whole and what kind of skill sets can we improve on to be more welcoming for newcomer Canadians?” said Hunt Haft, adding that the celebratory approach of OneWorld will help people learn more about other cultures, including cultures represented in the community.

“As we learn more about each other, we learn we are more alike than we are different and we have lots of similar goals and traits, desires and dreams,” said Hunt-Haft.

Milton said the month of February has been divided up into blocks, with each celebrating a different culture or area of the world.

OneWorld starts Feb. 1 by celebrating Black History Month, with movies and more in the Penmar. In week two, the lunar new year and asian culture are the theme; week three looks at Africa and Europe, and then North and South America in week four.

The month-long festival wraps up on Feb. 28 and March 1 by celebrating South Asia, including a visit from a Tibetan monk.  There will be a Bollywood movie shown on Feb 28, and a Bollywood-themed party on March 1 at the yacht club.

“We have bhangra dancers coming and belly dancers coming and there will be all kinds of entertainment and dancing and food and fun,” said Milton.

There will be a mix of events all month long from movies at the Penmar to storytelling.

“There is more stuff being added constantly. On Feb. 13, we have a traditional storyteller coming from the Penticton Indian Band,” said Milton adding that the event would also be at the Penmar and the PIB group is bringing in traditional foods and other activities.”

Downtown shops and restaurants are getting involved as well.

“We have all kinds of deals going on with the different restaurants that are participating. The Wild Scallion is going to do cooking workshops and so is Spice Magic,” said Milton.

“This youth group called the Theatre of the Oppressed, they are out of Vancouver, heard what we are doing,” she said. The group will be doing a two hour workshop with youth and create a theatre piece from it, which will be presented later in the day. The theme, Milton said, will be inclusion.

“You have a choice, Theatre of the Oppressed does exclusion or inclusion, but I wanted to do inclusion,” said Milton, adding that the time for the event is still being planned.

Full details and times for the events will be posted at downtownpenticton.org/oneworld.


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