The Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area
For over 30 years, the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area has existed for just one reason: to welcome newcomers from around the world, and help them become a valued member of the Canadian family.
And the second article...et le deuxieme article...
MOSAÏQ BRINGS DANCE, FOOD AND LIFE TO GREATER MONCTON
THE FAR SHORE—JUSTIN RYAN
Alan fixes me with a piercing stare, and levels a finger at me. “Tonight,” he says in a serious Filipino accent, “you are Cherry.”
Now this takes a bit of explaining. If you’re reading this then I’m already up and running, because today is the first of the two main days for the Mosaïq Multicultural Festival. They’ll have already closed the streets around Moncton City Hall and started setting up the tents for the World Village and the stage for the international artists.
However part of Mosaïq is also performing at the markets for all three of the local municipalities. On Saturday morning we’ll have artists of all kinds at the Moncton and Riverview markets, but Riverview does theirs on Wednesday nights, so that’s where I was, acting as MC.
It started perfectly. Being happily married (and very interested in staying that way) I’ll just briefly say that being paid to watch beautiful, exotic belly dancers cavort around a stage means I have pretty much the best job in the world. Then Paul McCloskey from the Irish Association takes to the stage and brings a tear to everyone’s eyes with some beautiful old Irish tunes, particularly from Moncton’s sister city of Galway. All good so far.
I take to the mic and tout all the dance workshops that are happing at Mosaïq on Saturday afternoon, explaining how passionate I am on the idea that culture means participation, not watching. “Come on, it’s Mosaïq, people!” I extol the crowd in ringing tones. “When you’re going along, don’t just go to watch – go to do! Get up! Dance, sing, make the crafts, talk to the newcomers. Don’t just find out about their cultures – give their cultures a hands-on try!” My arms are waving about, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. They’re picking me up and carrying me on their shoulders, cheering and calling out multicultural slogans.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that. However it was wonderful advice, which I believe fervently, right up to the point that I’m hoisted by my own petard.
Because now the Filipinos are readying themselves to come on stage, but it turns out that one of their star dancers isn’t able to make it, ruining the symmetry of the performance. I’ve seen the act several times, which turns out to now be a very, very bad thing.
“You will be a very good Cherry,” says Alan soothingly. “You just watch me and follow.” I really feel I should explain something here. Cherry is the name of a tall, willowy young Filipino woman with eye-catching dance moves, while I am precisely none of those things. This is roughly like asking Danny DeVito to stand in for Ginger Rogers. Alan pats me on the back. “We’re on.”
And on we were. As with most things multicultural, I found it’s mostly a matter of attitude, which most people I know will tell you I have in overflowing abundance. So I twisted, I gyrated, and I left it all on the dance floor to a round of heartily sympathetic applause. “The poor thing, he tried so hard,” they muttered sadly. “Thank heavens his wife and kids weren’t here to see it.”
Relieved that it was finally over, I turned to hand the mic to Marivic, who is on next. She looks at me and smiles, then turns to the crowd. “Who would like to see Justin dance to the song I’ll be singing?” she asks. They cheer and beckon me back onto stage. Cruel, horrible people. What had I ever done to them?
Fine, I think. I’ll just dance something Filipino. I’ve seen enough traditional dances to work it out. I brace myself and wait for the ancient sounds of the Tagalog language to fill the halls with memories of the Philippines of centuries past.
Marivic inhales, looks into my eyes and in breathy tones sings the opening lines I know all too well. “At first I was afraid I was petrified…kept thinking I could never live without you by my side…but then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong and I grew strong, and I learned how to get alo-o-ong”
Gloria Gaynor is not, I’m fairly certain, from the Philippines. She is, however, part of the vibrant modern Filipino karaoke culture in which I am suddenly and inextricably enmeshed. I’ll spare you the details, but if you hear urban legends begin to swim around about an interpretive dance done by a portly Australian to “I Will Survive”, you can assure them that it’s all as disturbingly true as they heard.
Don’t get me wrong. I had an absolute ball. It was in fact quite possibly my finest hour. It’s just the mental scarring of the Riverview community that I’m more worried about.
The real point is that if I’m diving in the deep end ahead of you, then you shouldn’t be scared to dip your toe just a teeny little bit into the gorgeous ocean of multiculturalism that’s growing and thriving right here in Greater Moncton. So come on down to Mosaïq and get hands on. It starts at 11 today and tomorrow and goes late into the night. Bring the kids (on Friday afternoon they can even play Quidditch). Get faces painted. Make crafts. Find unique fashion items. Eat food from around the world. But mostly come join me Saturday afternoon for the dance workshops. You ain’t seen nothin’ until you’ve seen me belly dance. I promise you a sight you will never, ever forget.
Sorry we're a little behind - here is the first of two Far Shore articles.
Désolé, nous sommes un peu en retard - ici est le premier de deux articles Far Shore.
WHY KIDS AND AUTOCORRECT NEED DIVERSITY TRAINING
THE FAR SHORE—JUSTIN RYAN
Grown-ups are idiots.
Ask any kid. They’ll tell you life is simple, and that grown-ups overcomplicate everything. Depressed and lonely? Hug a kitten. Need something? Ask a grown-up for help. Stressed and cooped up? Run screaming around the playground. Chase pigeons. Laugh, cry, get it all out. Done.
I learn much more from my kids than they do from me, and dealing across cultures is certainly no exception. I’m reminded of this as Elder Daughter comes home a while back and announces she’s made a new friend at school. This was halfway through the school year, so it got me curious.
“Her name’s Aminata, and she’s from Sierra Leone,” she explains breathlessly, “and I asked her if she was new, and she said yes, so I asked if she had any friends yet and she said no, then I asked her if she wanted to be my friend and have lunch with me and she said yes, so we did. Her country is very beautiful, but they were all fighting in the village where her family lived, so they left. She likes Disney Princesses, so tomorrow I’m going to wear my Cinderella hairband.”
Papa’s heart just bursts. My kids are awesome.
The challenge is that not every immigrant student happens to sit down next to the daughter of the guy working at the local multicultural association. Adults can’t truly make kids welcome. Only other kids can do that. The good news is that their generation has a completely different view of the world than I did at their age. When I was growing up pretty much everyone at my school looked like me, sounded like me, and thought like me. I actually remember my first interracial blunder, aged six. We were drawing people, and the girl next to me asked me why I was using a pink marker. “Because people’s skin is pi…” I trailed off, noticing for the first time the brown marker in her hand and dark skin of her Australian aboriginal heritage. Embarrassed, I switched for a brown one as well. I was six. What did I know?
I’m not sure if that memory of having no idea of how to deal with such differences is why I decided to start doing cross-cultural activities geared for kids, but it’s probably part of it. The truth is that younger children have less to undo, less to let go of. I realized that for adults we have workshops and discussion groups around fundamental paradigm shifts in ethnocentric perceptions. For kids it’s about games, dancing and food from around the world.
I’m on their side. That why last year we joined with our partners to put our heads together and generate ideas for youth activities at the Mosaïq Multicultural Festival, eventually creating the wildly popular Youth Olympïqs. “Caber toss from Scotland,” suggested Paul, the Youth Coordinator at United Way, “but we need something soft and easier to throw than a 20’ wooden post.” We settled on an enormous pool noodle, which turned out to be no end of fun for the kids.
“Bocce from Italy,” adds Derrick from the Boys and Girls club.
I’m being quickly out-brainstormed here. Time to think outside the box. “How about buzkashi from central Asia?” Pencils start scribbling, iPads are opened. “I’m not familiar with it,” admits Paul with a frown at the red squiggly autocorrect underline. “What do we need for equipment?”
“Well, it’s best with between 200 to 500 horses,” I explain. “Then we just need about five miles of mountainous terrain, two big iron hoops and the carcass of a dead goat. Should be all done after three or four days.”
Now, I have a rule; there are no bad ideas in brainstorming. My partners didn’t seem to agree. Words like “dangerous” and “unhygienic” were being thrown around, even when I suggested following the Afghan Olympic rules and limiting it to 10 horses a side and no whipping opponents. (Honest to goodness, I’m not making this up.) Anyway, I guess Canadian kids just weren’t culturally ready for it.
“Fine,” said Paul, laughing. “Then I want to play Quidditch, just like in the Harry Potter books. Quaffles, flying brooms, the works.” We all chuckle, but a short Google investigation later it turns out they actually play this for real, and is becoming a big university sport. A month later we’ve got a couple of dozen kids on little brooms chasing each other around the field in front of Moncton City Hall, wearing flags from around the world on their capes and proudly representing everywhere from Azerbaijan to Zambia. Told you there were no bad ideas in brainstorming.
So with Mosaïq coming up again on July 18–19, as always we’ve got the world coming to Greater Moncton to entertain us from lunchtime to late at night. Still, my “happy place” is the Kids’ Pavilion. Both days will have the World Craft Tent where they can get hands-on, making everything from Chinese paper lanterns to European blue willow plates. Friday 18th will have the Youth Olympïqs (Quidditch returns!) and on the Saturday we’ll be joined by Scouts Canada who will be running tent games, canoe races and much more. Now I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how they’re doing canoe races on the grass in front of Moncton City Hall, but Scout Leader Tom assures me it’s a “go”.
We’re calling every daycare and summer camp to invite them on down, but I’ll take this moment to invite you directly. Check out Mosaïq.ca for details, and if your kid comes home checking out their reflection in a Mexican mirror so see what their fresh braid of African hair beads looks like, don’t worry – that’s just multiculturalism. It’s how the young kids roll these days. At least, that’s what I’m working on.
On July 18&19 Moncton, NB holds the beautiful multicultural festival called Mosaïq. This is one of the footage of drum circle, full of rhythm and excitement.
July 18-19, 2014 - Annual Multicultural Festival / 18-19 juillet 2014 - Festival multiculturel annuel - www.mosaiqmoncton.ca
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22 Church St, Suite C170
Moncton, New Brunswick
Telephone: (506) 858-9659
Fax: (506) 857-9430