Wood Buffalo Multicultural EXPO expands for 2nd year online


The Wood Buffalo Multicultural EXPO will be hosted online for the second year in a row, but this year there will be twice as many performances, a live talent show and a professional videographer.

Ashley Makey, communications coordinator with the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo, said this year’s event had to be moved online, due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The celebration begins on February 5 and continues until the end of the month.

Last year, the Multicultural Association held a virtual exhibit, where residents could submit videos about their culture, some of which shared recipes, songs or stories.

But this year there are more artists, the videos will be professionally recorded and there will be a live young talent show.

“Some people don’t have access to the cameras or the know-how, so we wanted to give them the opportunity that they can still be a part of it,” Makey said.

“It’s really exciting as we get closer to it.”

The talent show will feature pre-recorded videos of the artists, but people will be able to vote live for their favorite performance.

In preparation for the event, a videographer has been recording performances every weekend for the past month.

There will be 80 taped performances broadcast throughout the month, which will be streamed on the Multicultural Association’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Last year’s exhibition saw 43 people submit home videos of their performances.

She said it was disappointing that the event couldn’t take place in person, but going online was the right decision.

“We also have to consider the needs of the community.”

There will also be a treaty recognition video, and this year it will be played in 10 languages, including Farsi, Tagalog and German.

Shweta Suthar, who started Divine Group of India, has a group of four girls entering the show. They do a dance called Kathak.

Shewta Suthar is an Indian actress and news presenter. She founded the Divine Group of India so that she could share her culture with the community. (Submitted by Shweta Suthar)

She said it is important to teach children about their culture, including language, dress and dance.

“I teach my student why we are here and where we come from,” Suthar said.

She said dancing is a good way to get kids interested in culture.

Suthar takes part in all the exhibitions, and she said that without the multicultural association, the Divine Group of India would not exist.

“They’re cheering me on,” Suthar said. “I had to start something for my community and for others. They should know what Indian culture is.”

Lisa Marie Bourque, whose spiritual name is Āhăsiwiskwew, works with a group of indigenous adults and children to transfer knowledge and reclaim culture.

She didn’t give too many details about what they will perform, but said the song was in Ojibway and she had been singing it for years.

They will all wear matching ribbon skirts for the performance.

“It’s heartwarming,” Bourque said. “The goal was really to inspire our young people.”

Bourque said some of the girls in the group who previously didn’t sing or sang quietly are now participating and singing loudly.

“Some of them didn’t sing at first and now they’re loud and proud. And I believe that’s the foundation of our indigenous people, that’s their culture.”

“Start them young and they’ll have what they need when they grow up.”


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