Over the past few weeks many of us will have taken time to view the Olympics. It was a pleasure watching these amazing athletes perform and it was great to see Canada do so well.
The athlete stories, along with the features and commercials, brought out our national pride. Emotions can run high during sporting events but the power of these Olympics made people put aside their differences. We were dazzled and amazed by skill, grace and glory and our heart strings were tugged during team Canada performances, especially from those athletes who, with perseverance and a strong work ethic, emerged as role models for all of us by overcoming hardship and challenges on their journey to the Olympics.
Penticton has 34,000 residents yet only one person, Andi Naude, went to Korea to represent Canada. Finishing sixth in the world is quite an accomplishment and we are very proud of her. When asked about her experience Andi responded “I’m gonna learn from it, I’ll keep my head high.”
Sport teaches many life lessons for both the participants and those watching. It is bigger than just the joys and sorrows of victory or defeat. As you look back at your own sporting career, or that of your loved one(s), you seldom remember the medals but you will always remember the experiences associated with the tournament or event. As much as we cheered for Canada, many athletes from many different countries joined Canadians in elevating their performances during these games by showcasing the human spirit of sport.
Human spirit was also on display last weekend when I attended the fifth annual OneWorld Penticton festival, held at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. There were 49 vendors displaying cultural cuisine, merchandise, entertainment, tradition, and information representing 37 countries. The OneWorld Penticton festival is a great showcase of the inclusive and welcoming community Penticton is becoming.
One way to celebrate ethnicity and to connect to ones roots is through food, culture or sport. The Penticton Scottish Festival and Highland games is a popular example of celebrating Scottish traditions through athletic activities, highland dancing, medieval role play, bag pipes, entertainment, food and men in skirts (kilts); we have Oktoberfest to celebrate German beer, Bratwurst, and lederhosen; the Penticton Indian Band revived hosting a summer PowWow; and last year our city played host to over 3,500 athletes from 41 countries for the ITU World Multisport Championships.
What else can we put together to build off of the success of OneWorld Penticton? I bring this up as it typically takes a newly landed immigrant over 10 years to feel connected to their new community. Creating events that celebrate culture and showcase diversity is perhaps the best way to cultivate community pride, remove barriers and make people feel welcome.
I want to thank the South Okanagan Immigrant Community Services staff and volunteers (along with the generosity of the Penticton Lakeside Resort) for creating an amazing family friendly community event. When you consider most of our ancestral history involved immigration and taking a chance on a new town or region, it is comforting to know there are several supportive services, including events and activities that create inviting environments and help build a welcoming city.