STRAIT AREA: Even in the face of a global pandemic, a group of Cape Bretoners were determined to celebrate diversity, inclusion, wonderful traditions of the region, and the newcomers who chose to make this area their new home.
To expand one’s learning and cultural awareness, a new festival had been established, “Mawita’nej – Multiculturalism East of the Causeway.” Face to face plans were sidelined by COVID-19, however in true Islander fashion, without missing a step, the group pivoted to bring digital content.
Showcasing the richness of the cultural fabric, Mawita’nej means “coming together” – a fitting title for a festival with the purpose of bridging cultural divides and building understanding.
“Learning about each other is a critical step to ensuring that we don’t let our biases and privileges overshadow our pursuit of social justice and equality,” Amanda Mombourquette said. “We’re stronger when we understand our shared history.
Mawita’nej is all about appreciation, welcome, inclusion and education.
“Together, we are recognizing the richness and positive impact that many cultures bring to our communities. Together, we are welcoming newcomers who have settled here and made the Strait Area their home,” Mombourquette said. “Together, we are bringing cultures together, sharing past, present, and future experiences. Together, we are learning from each other and building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability between people of varying cultural backgrounds.”
The virtual schedule officially kicked off on June 21, on National Indigenous Peoples Day.
“First we would like to thank each and every one who has participated in any way this year in our festival,” organizer Trina Hall-Sampson said. “If you were in a video, social distanced at an event, viewed a posting, participated in the scavenger hunt or showed your support in any way, thank you.”
This year’s event, the group said, was positive in so many ways and they hope that viewers took away something positive from the videos they shared.
Diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging is very strong, and there are many great assets here in the Strait Area within our communities and our newcomers.
The group is looking to bring a much larger and in-person festival next year. “Whether it was taking a cooking class, listening to a story, learning something new about a different culture – we are really heart-warmed by your participation,” Hall-Sampson said. “We shall come together – Mawita’nej.”