The Prince Albert Multicultural Society held an event of global proportions, all across a 2,500 meter trail in Prince Albert’s East Flat overlooking the North Saskatchewan River on Saturday morning.
It attracted many people, including large families that used the opportunity to have a relaxing summer day, as well as a journalist determined to see everything as quickly as possible.
“This is our second year,” explained Michelle Hassler of the Prince Albert Multicultural Society. “We launched this last year. Because of the pandemic, we weren’t able to travel anywhere, so we (thought), ‘Hmmm, why not travel safely in our own backyard?’
“We really wanted to do a walkathon of some kind, so we combined this idea along with travelling the world together.”
Of course, every world traveller needs a passport, which each participant received. When one stopped at each of the ten booths, all stationed along the Rotary Trail, a stamp was added. Anyone completing the ten stamp quest got their name put into a draw for a sweet gift basket.
“At the very end of the trail, there’s a PA Multicultural Society booth, and participants expect to see all the beautiful countries that are waiting to welcome them,” Hassler stated.
As it is with any travelling adventure, you meet others on a similar path. Such was the case on this voyage down the Rotary Trail on Saturday morning.
“Our whole family gets together and does an event, and we chose to do this one,” said Adriene Locke, who attended with his family.
“There are probably going to be about 10 adults and 7 or 8 kids. The kids love it too.”
The first stop on the trail was a booth run by the Prince Albert Historical Society, representing the City of Prince Albert. Next on the trail was Ukraine, represented by members Veselka Ukrainian Cultural and Heritage Club.
“I think today is just a chance for us to get together to show our pride in our culture and have some fun,” said longtime member Charlene Tebbutt. “Today, we’re giving out sunflower seed (packets) to plant, and we have some Ukrainian candy.”
While the Locke family stopped for a picnic, I scuttled on ahead to check out the other eight stops. Next on the list was the Fransaskois. Here they presented many of the learning opportunities they offer to new families immigrating to Prince Albert, including books and educational materials.
The fourth stop was Khazhatstan, with a booth being run by Claudette Dranko, who hails from Mur-sultan City. Dranko was happy to represent her old home.
“I’m really proud because my country is amazing,” she said.
Fifth on the list was a booth displaying some purses made of straw from the Philippines. Margarete De La Santos is a newcomer to Prince Albert, having moved here in August of 2021.
“I (thought) about living here in Canada because of the benefits and also I wanted to experience the weather here, especially the wintertime,” De La Santos admits. “I changed my mind (about winter) because it’s so cold here.”
In her display, she included some handicrafts made in her homeland, which included purses and household items made from woven straw. When asked about what she thought of mainstream movies including the Pinoy language, such as what was used in the summer blockbuster Spiderman: No Way Home, she admitted she hasn’t seen it yet, but was intrigued by the use of the language.
Stop number six was India, where the young women were not only showing photos of their homeland, but offering traditional Henna tattoos.
“We are doing Henna tattoos today, and that’s for free,” said Henna artist Nadie Jamboo.
Henna is non-toxic and isn’t permanent, so after one wild rose tattoo on the back of my right hand later, done by Jamboo, I headed off to the next stop.
The seventh stop was China, hosted by Eric Su and his young son. Both were soft spoken yet very proud of their homeland. Su is very proud of his homeland’s cultural beauty, stating “the buildings, the food, and music, and the pandas! Many people now enjoy Chinese tea, they are very healthy!”
However, Su also knows there could be improvements.
“We need more communication, because Chinese people aren’t always so open, they are a little bit shy. Also, our English, we are not good at English at all, so we need more communication (to learn the language better).”
The eighth stop on the whirlwind tour of the world was a nation well known for its coffee, that being Colombia. Veronica Duterre-Cera was grateful for the opportunity to show off the best of Colombian culture.
“We want to share about our country,” she said. “We are a happy country, we have a lot of colour, and a lot of music.”
Ninth on the world tour was the Democratic Republic of Congo. Leticia Moyoma, who has been in Canada for almost half a decade, considers both the nation she was born in and the one she lives in to be connected.
“Canada is part of our country, because we came to Canada to find a safe place,” Moyoma said quietly as she held a child on her lap.
The final stop on the tour was the Tapestrama display, which is also part of the Prince Albert Multicultural Society. Sylvie Charpentier was there, offering anyone who made it to the end a bottle of water if needed, as well as granola bars.
As a long-time member of the Multicultural Society, she knew one of its founding members, Marge Nainaar, as a role model and pillar in the community until her unexpected passing in late 2011.
“She’d love it,” Charpentier said. “She always loved Tapestrama, she’s one of the people who worked hard to make it a reality, and bringing people together.”
The walk gave anyone who completed it and who spoke with each of the groups something to think about in our future. Once this story is submitted, those sunflower seeds from the Ukrainian booth will be planted in some of the plantpots outside my house, with the hopes of helping to grow some much-needed unity in Western Canada.