PRAIRIE PRISM — Bengali dancers were among those from many cultures performing, telling stories and sharing traditions at Prairie Prism 2014 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family Sept. 28 in Saskatoon. (Yaworski photo)

Prairie Prism part of Culture Days

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski

SASKATOON — Getting to know the neighbours was cited as one of the benefits of a showcase and celebration of cultural heritage held Sept. 28 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.

Prairie Prism highlighted the culture and contributions of many nationalities and ethnic traditions during the free Sunday afternoon event that featured music, dance, food, activities and storytelling.

Interactive centres in the parish hall and programming areas included hands-on activities such as origami, playing the ukulele, and Chinese yo-yo, as well as the chance to try henna or to put on a sari. Other displays offered coffee-making demonstrations and face painting, in addition to a number of information booths by community organizations and support agencies.

Performers included a drum group from Leask Community School as well as musicians from different cultures and Bengali, German, Brazilian, Assyrian, First Nations and Irish dancers.

Storytellers shared tales from First Nations, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Peru, Uganda and the Philippines.

During the program, speakers and organizers noted the increasing diversity of Saskatchewan, and the benefits this cultural richness brings to the whole community.

Speaking in Cree, Joseph Naytowhow welcomed all to Treaty 6 territory. Naytowhow also sang to the drum, played the wood song flute, and taught the crowd the words to sing along in Cree.

“A prism — it’s a great metaphor,” said MLA Rob Norris who brought greetings from the provincial government. “It allows us to see a reflection of our provincial motto: ‘From many peoples strength.’ ”

The motto also defines “the new Saskatchewan, where today we celebrate local and global cultures coming together, reflecting our changing and improving city and province,” he said.

Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison reflected on Saskatoon as a “city of bridges” where bridges are about more than simply transport. The description also calls for building bridges among people, he stressed, noting the wide variety of other Culture Days events happening throughout the city on the same weekend.

Atchison pointed out the freedom Canadians have to hold a peaceful celebration such as Prairie Prism within a Catholic church, with people of many backgrounds, traditions and faiths — something that is not possible in many parts of the world.

Prairie Prism 2014 co-chairs Tej Harrison and Elaine Harder also spoke, thanking all those who participated in the event.

Sponsors for Prairie Prism included Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Sask Culture, Affinity Credit Union, University of Regina, India-Canada Cultural Association, Areva, Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Public Schools, Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist (Anglican Church), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, and the Mennonite Central Committee.

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