Metro celebrates the world with Mosa´q
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Times & Transcript
By: Julia Whalen
Topics: Major Events
For Tsukasa Nishibori, this weekend's Mosa´q Multicultural Festival is an opportunity to experience different cultures, take in sights from around the world and talk to people.
It's also a chance for the Japan native, who moved to Moncton two years ago, to share her stories about Canadian life with fellow immigrants.
'You weren't really a coffee drinker but you became one because Tim Hortons is everywhere,' she said with a laugh. 'And the first English you lear n is 'medium doubledouble.'' Downtown Moncton has been transformed into a World Village for this weekend's Mosa´q festival, highlighting the various cultures that make up Metro Moncton. Started in 2004 by the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area (MAGMA), the event is now put on in partnership with the City of Moncton to promote inclusion, outreach, diversity and community.
The festival kicked off on Main Street yesterday with live music, dance, art and food vendors. Hundreds gathered to dance, experience tastes from around the world and shop.
Children from the Boys and Girls Club, a partner of MAGMA, did crafts and tie-died t-shirts in the World Village's Education Pavilion through a youth workshop, which will be available today from 10-11 a.m. and this afternoon from 1-2 p.m. Multicultural associations of all kinds, from the Mi'kmaq Pow Wow Dancers to the Korean Association, lit up the main stage at Moncton City Hall yesterday afternoon along with acts like New Brunswick's own Les Hay Babies and percussion group Kenefoli.
Cuban-Canadian singersongwriter Alex Cuba was last night's headliner, performing his fusion of jazz, funk and pop with Latin and African influences to an enthusiastic crowd. Cuba is a Juno award-winner and has collaborated with famous fellow Canadian artists like Nelly Furtado and Ron Sexsmith.
Main Street will be closed from Sommet Lane to Mechanic Street until 3 a.m. Sunday morning for the festival as well as Botsford Street from Main Street to Queen Street to make room for the World Village.
Nishibori said there are more types of food vendors at this year's event, making it easier to experience different cultures. She tried out belly dancing in a workshop put on by Barbara Aubie of Moncton's Studio Sephira, which will happen again today at 3 p.m., and said it was 'difficult but fun.' 'I feel very lucky,' Nishibori said. 'Instead of getting expensive flight tickets you can just walk around and taste a little bit of Lebanon or India.' MAGMA executive director Tradina Meadows-Forgeron said the festival is an opportunity to show Metro Moncton what the organization has to offer. MAGMA welcomes more than 700 newcomers per year, she said, and Mosa´q is a perfect way to show the diversity that exists here.
Booths are set up to display a variety of cultures, and people who are perhaps missing home are able to show their friends and community what their native country means to them.
'They're getting to show a piece of what home was like while establishing their new home here,' Meadows-Forgeron said.
'It's a wonderful event. People are really starting to come out and embrace it.' She said the educational aspects of the festival are 'phenomenal' in its ability to promote family, community and sharing. It also lets people know the resources MAGMA provides, including language classes, programs to help get settled in Moncton and in Canada as well as business opportunities and partners of the organization.
Peru native Felipe de Lucio immigrated to Moncton from Peru four and a half years ago and is now on the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce's board of directors.
Brought here by a 'female Canadian,' he said, he enjoys living in Moncton for its security, cleanliness and politeness, among other things.
He said the lack of traffic, mixture of English and French and proximity to the beach and airport make Moncton a great place to live.
'You have it all,' he laughed.
de Lucio is part of a group founding a Latin American association in the city called Viva Moncton, which has a booth at the festival. The organization's first main objective is to get an idea of the current population of Latinos in the area as the latest statistics for the area date back to 2003.
'We are an organization that promotes the culture of Latinos,' de Lucio said. 'We are all-inclusive and we want to contribute to the local community with our way of looking at life, and expand horizons as much as we have expanded our horizons coming here.' The group is collecting names of Latin Americans in Moncton as well as people who have an interest in the culture in order to connect more easily for special events. de Lucio hopes to throw cultural parties with dancing, music and art to celebrate the 20-plus countries each member hails from.
The next step will be to register as a multicultural association. The festival booth is the group's first act after having meetings over the past two to three months.
'Latinos are known because everybody talks at the same time, nobody listens and everybody says they're going to do it and they never do it,' de Lucio joked. 'But in this case we have people who are committed and who will make it happen.' Meadows-Forgeron hopes festival attendance will be even better than last year, which saw 4,000 festivalgoers. Feedback so far has been positive, and she said it's important in letting newcomers to Moncton know they have support.
The event continues today with vendors in the World Village, workshops in the Education Pavilion and multicultural artists on the main stage from noon until 4 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.
Honky-tonk country band The Divorcees and Oumou Soumar, a Mali native who now calls Moncton home, will headline tonight's show.