Hoop Dancer Lakota Tootoosis. Paula E. Kirman
A dramatization of an Oromo wedding. Paula E. Kirman
On Friday, July 21, in Giovanni Caboto Park, a group of leaders and pillars of the community gathered with some very talented youth from diverse backgrounds to celebrate youth in the arts and promote unity among all Edmontonians. The celebration was named “Global Fusion Youth Cultural Arts Celebration” and by all standards it was a huge hit. There were some very recognizable faces in the crowd, from Ahmed Knowmadic Ali, who has recently been named Poet Laureate of Edmonton, to Mayor Don Iveson who told a moving story about how, during his childhood, he had been taught to look at others differently and how he has spent a lifetime trying to unlearn the things he was taught in his younger days about the differences between his and other cultures.
The day began with a circular dance in which youth from many nations displayed cultural symbols and greetings. The circular dance was based on the concept of a powwow, giving recognition and honour to the Treaty 6 territory in which the event took place. In a short ceremony with an Elder and Indigenous drummers, the announcer from the stage acknowledged the many groups of First Nations peoples who used this area as a gathering place from far back in time. The Elder (Dean Brown) was present to give a blessing to the festivities. As the day went on, the weather wasn’t always perfect, but the show didn’t miss a beat and the mood was kept high. There were numerous bands that came out to help the celebrations, and a number of cultural dance groups. Giving off powerful drum beats was the Sangea West African drum group. There was also an Indigenous drum group that has performed at many other McCauley events, the Nehiyawak Native Drummers. Not the least of the performers was the Laos youth dance group, and the popular local band “The definit.”
Among the local leaders in attendance was City Councillor Scott McKeen, Member of Parliament Amarjeet Sohi, and representatives from E4C, the McCauley Community League, Ogaden Somali Community, The Edmonton Community Foundation, and the City of Edmonton, all of which were funders of the event. As the day drew to a close, all artists and performers available joined together for a grand finale jam. Singers, drummers, guitar players, and more all joined together to make sweet music to commemorate a day of unity and fellowship among those who may not have met without this event.