ROBIN BOOKER/BRANDON SUN
Island Vibe plays at Brandon’s third annual Multicultural Summer
Festival on Saturday evening.
Brandon’s growing multicultural community was celebrated over the weekend with the third annual Multicultural Summer Festival.
Jay Stoller gives an African drumming class on Saturday afternoon in Princess Park. (ROBIN BOOKER/BRANDON SUN)
On Saturday, there were eight hours of activities at Princess Park, including entertainment by New Celtic String Band, Slow Spirit, Island Vibe, Son Latino and an African drumming workshop put on by Jay Stoller of Winnipeg.
As the sun eased and the shadows from the trees began to stretch across the park, Stoller asked for 14 volunteers to join him at the centre of the tent, which was a focal point for the festival.
Multiple languages rustled amongst the hundreds of people who had gathered for the event while Stoller’s African beats enriched the basic drumming his students played.
Edwin Peters of Brandon said his favourite part of the event was the music.
"It’s a good event for Brandon, it gets people out in this beautiful summer weather and it mixes the different cultures that live in Brandon," Peters said.
Jaime Chinchilla, the cultural diversity facilitator at Westman Immigrant Services and one of the organizers of the festival, said the event is intended to promote integration and multi-culturalism.
"We recognize there is a lot of movement in the configuration of the population of Brandon in the last few years. So we are showcasing some of the things the city has gained culturally and providing a place where people can mingle and meet each other and see each other’s culture," Chinchilla said.
Paige Baker of Brandon came to the event with her mother, sister, niece and nephew. She would like to see the festival become a staple of Brandon’s summer.
"It’s nice to see the diversity of people here because it makes me more aware of cultures other than my own — I’m aboriginal. It’s interesting hearing different types of music and seeing the different dancing. I enjoy people coming together like this to help build a sense of community. You can tell it’s been put together by people who care about Brandon," Baker said.
John Bernal, 31, was at the festival with his wife and son. Bernal originally moved to Brandon from Colombia five years ago to work at Maple Leaf Foods and now works on a service rig in Virden. He said Brandon is a good place to work and live and that he hopes to live here for a long time.
"This is my third time coming to this event. I come here to spend time with my friends and family, to meet people and to experience some of their culture. Events like this make me feel more welcome and accepted in the community," Bernal said.
Chinchilla said Brandon is a welcoming place, in spite of the difficulty many people in the immigrant community have in finding living accommodations.
"Brandon already had a good energy, but the immigrant community has just enlarged or enriched it. They have brought a lot of their culture with them because you cannot just leave all that behind. So it is important for them to be able to express their culture and for others to understand it and to accept it as a new community that is blending with what is already in place," Chinchilla said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 9, 2012