After two long years of pandemic restrictions, the London Multicultural Festival made its grand return to Covent Garden Market on Sunday.
Hundreds of Londoners were on hand to enjoy a variety of food, entertainment and produce from countries and cultures around the world.
“It’s a lot bigger than we thought, and the community really stepped up to help us plan with so much energy, people were hungry to have something like this again,” Jack said. Malkin, President of the London Multicultural Community Association (LMCA).
Due to the changing nature of the restrictions, LMCA had to scramble to organize the event in the space of approximately two months. Here is an overview of the sellers who jumped at the chance to participate.
What started as a way to reconnect with their Indigenous roots through beading has blossomed into a lifelong bond of sisterhood for Mary Capton, Amber White and Kylie Petahtegoose.
Together they are known as the “Three Sisters Beadwork”, each of them from different First Nations communities of Six Nations, Mi’kmaq and Atikameksheng.
“We are chosen sisters and our name reflects corn, beans and squash, which are the three main food groups for many First Nations groups, and their method of planting is very intertwined, which aligns with our values” , Capton said. .
The trio want to share their culture with others, while educating them on the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation.
“Our pieces are unique and reflect who we are. We use a wide variety of traditional methods and materials. It’s really nice to have our own voice in our work, which is also part of the storytelling,” Blanc said. .
A taste of culture
Cornelie Mbaya brought a taste of her native Congolese cuisine to the festival. It was her first year participating and she admitted to being very nervous. But seeing all the customers take an interest in the food she cooked, she was proud to represent her culture.
“It was great for us Congo Canadians to be here and introduce our food to others,” she said.
She said the best sellers at her stand were BBQ chicken and traditional “beignets” which are a type of donut in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Agnibh Bhattacharaya’s booth was filled with mud mirror jewelry, which he said is common in western parts of India, such as Gujarat. Since he had no mud, he improvised with clay.
“We molded clay into different shapes for the earrings, then we attached mirrors together, then we crafted designs on the clay itself,” he said.
Bhattacharaya really enjoyed his first time attending the festival and is happy to see how many people showed interest in his culture and traditional jewelry.
Celebrate different cultures
Londoners who attended the festival were delighted to see the diversity on display in their own city.
George Tzortzis and Michelle Wertsch brought their newborn to the event. What caught their attention was the music and the lively atmosphere.
“We are a family of different cultures and our little baby is half German, half Greek and so we like to celebrate that,” Tzortzis said.
They were happy to be outside and see a large crowd after the event was shut down for two years.
London’s multicultural festival has returned to @CoventMarket after 2 years. Here is contestant Mariam Rezaei taking part in a traditional Iranian folk dance, which is a celebration of happiness and togetherness at the London Multicultural Festival #LdnOnt @CBCLondon pic.twitter.com/gWFX1btWXi
Mariam Rezaei took part in an Iranian folk dance which she says is a celebration of happiness and togetherness. She and her family were delighted to see the large number of people present at the festival.