Celebrating our cultural diversity


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/12/2021 (526 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On Dec. 5, the Whyte Ridge Community Centre board of directors and Pembina Active Living 55-plus co-hosted a celebration of cultural diversity at the WRCC. More than 70 people attended the event and there was traditional music, dancing and food from Chinese, Russian and Iranian cultures. Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid and Waverley West city councillor Janice Lukes were also in attendance.

The event was unfortunately cancelled last year owing to COVID 19, but it was great to repeat the successful inaugural celebration of 2019. Hopefully, this will be a regular occurrence at the community centre, as it’s something quite new, and different from other sports and recreation events hosted at the facility.

I spoke with Shahin Shooshtari, the WRCC diversity director, to get some background on her position on the board, and the cultural event that she organized. She immigrated from Iran in 1996 to take her PhD at the University of Manitoba and moved to Whyte Ridge with her young family in 2002. She explained that it was challenging for newcomers, for whom English is a second language, to become integrated with the community. While she registered her children in sports, she wasn’t aware of the potential for other activities until recently.

Photo by Nick Barnes The Whyte Ridge Community Centre co-hosted a cultural diversity event with PAL 55-plus on Dec. 5 at the WRCC.

Her feelings about the various ways to reconnect with culture were likely fostered during her work with the Iranian Community of Manitoba organization, which she helped establish in 2008.

She found that sharing food and music was a great way to start conversations and share experiences. She learned about WRCC board activities during the 2018 summer carnival and joined the board at the next annual general meeting. The diversity directorship was established to help her cultivate sharing our community’s diversity — of culture, age and abilities.

She said that some new families feel a little isolated when they first arrive, and events such as the one on Dec. 5 create a space in which newcomers feel comfortable while getting to know other members of the community. With PAL 55-plus as co-sponsor, we had seniors enjoying the event with parents and families.

I think Shahin’s on to something. Based on the 2016 census, almost a quarter of Whyte Ridge residents are immigrants who come from 23 different countries and speak more than 25 languages. If we’re serious about the true meaning of a community, we need more people like Shahin to help us celebrate our diversity, and maybe this is a template for other community centres to follow.

Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

Nick Barnes

Nick Barnes
Whyte Ridge community correspondent

Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

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