The weekend weather may have been grey and gloomy, but the atmosphere at Humber Lakeshore campus was vibrant and filled with the sound of laughter and music as community members participated in Etobicoke-Lakeshore Culture Days programming.
Co-hosted by Humber College and Lakeshore Arts with supporting partners Assembly Hall and Mimico by the Lake BIA, it was the eighth year the college participated in the arts and cultural festival. The event takes place every September across Canada with free, inclusive family-friendly activities that are open to the public.
Humber hosted a variety of workshops in the Student Welcome and Resource Centre, a bustling hub of activity. The sound of notes played on the Humber Public Piano drifted throughout the building, in addition to children’s laughter and chatter as they painted and decorated Australian-inspired rhythm sticks and Russian matryoshka dolls, created Mexican folk art, known as Papel Picado, and embroidered Swedish Dala horses. Humber student volunteers from a wide variety of Humber programs ensured community members felt welcome and that activities ran smoothly. Mid-afternoon, Humber music students performed on the second floor on drums and a clarinet as participants were encouraged to dance if the music moved them.
Nivedita Bhalla, this year’s Culture Days programming intern, says she was motivated to ensure that programming not only represented the diversity of cultures present in Canada, but also had an educational component. “Every single workshop links back to a unique culture,” she said. “We have Rangoli, art with a purpose, that links back to India, where I’m from. If anybody walks in to do Rangoli art, it’s not like they’re watching a YouTube ‘how-to’ video. We want to share the significance of the art within our culture.”
Etobicoke resident Esther-Marie Poonan and her grandson Carter weren’t deterred by the gloomy weather. “Carter likes the activities, he loves Lego,” she said, as the two pored over an instruction manual at the Junior Robotics activity tent. Poonan said she made a point to make sure she wasn’t scheduled to work this weekend. “It’s a great chance to experience a little bit of everything. There’s Peruvian culture, Indigenous culture. I like that Humber is such a big part of the community, offers their premises and takes part in these community events.”
In addition to creative workshops, the event featured the Waatebagaa Giizis Festival on Saturday afternoon, supported by Humber’s Aboriginal Resource Centre. The annual festival brings community members together in celebration of Indigenous identity, and is one of the most popular events of the festival.
As part of a closing ceremony on Sunday afternoon, the KUNÉ Global Orchestra performed a free, interactive concert at the Assembly Hall. Comprised of 11 musicians from all over the world each playing a unique instrument, KUNÉ aims to capture the spirit of the diversity within Canada by creating a unique, collaborative sound. “This performance really resonated with the theme of what Culture Days is about,” said Nawfal Sheikh, Community Cultural coordinator with Assembly Hall, City of Toronto. “You’re celebrating culture on a variety of different levels. Whether from a music point of view, or in terms of where people were born, the commonality is that they all live in Canada now, in the Greater Toronto area. They’re bringing a very global sound that still has this Toronto perspective,” he explained.
“Culture Days is a great way to participate and engage with things that you may not be familiar with, said Sheikh. “It’s easy to stick with what you know, but with Culture Days you have the option to get outside of your own box, and experience art and culture.”