Submitted by Gita John-Iyam, Family and Youth Services Coordinator
Watch the Video: Where Do You Belong?
On March 26,2019, the youth program of ICA, along with students in Community, Family and Child studies at Camosun College, brought a cultural experience to the Lansdowne campus. Hosted in the Indigenous gathering space called Na’tsa’maht, our program tied together important universal aspects of culture: food, dance, music, fashion, language, and art. We wanted to provide a safe space for people to explore the idea of where they find belonging in their own cultures and other cultures they have had experiences in.
For our newcomer youth, there were many opportunities to take on leadership roles and learn how to plan and host a successful event. It also was a fun way for them to showcase elements of their own culture they have pride in.
Youth were responsible for organizing their volunteering schedule, finding donations for food, choosing activities as well as setting up, taking down, and hosting during the day. From our youth group, we had 10 youth support the program. Youth from Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Syria, Mexico, Libya, Vietnam, Korea, and China came out to volunteer. The team of five students from Camosun who were part of the organizing committee used this experience as their service learning project.
Our program was well attended, with over 200 students, staff, and community members coming through to try henna, learn how to wrap hijabs, sample delights from around the world, explore our collection of cultural artifacts, write their names in a few languages, and dress up or just enjoy the fashions from around the world. As well, they were able to connect with our youth and understand more about their experiences coming to Canada as a refugee or immigrant. Attendees left with full hearts and full stomachs. Our goal is to make this an annual event with the potential to grow to other Camosun campuses in Victoria. The reception from our launch event, along with the support from our community, gives us hope that this possible.
Our event wouldn’t have been possible without support from the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, Camosun College, Saanich Parks and Rec., the Fig Restaurant, Yummy Truck, Wrap ‘N Roll, The Tibetan Kitchen, TakingITGlobal, the Government of Canada, Canada Service Corps as well as the time, talent and treasures of our volunteers. We would also like to acknowledge that this program took place on the unceded homelands of the WSANEC, Songhees and Lekwungen speaking people, on whose land we are grateful to have the opportunity to live, learn and love.