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Bring it back

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Fort Frances' first Festival of India at the Rainy Lake Square on Monday evening was a hit

The event, which was co-hosted by the Rainy River Future Development Corp. through the Town of Fort Frances and the Vedic Cultural Centre out of Thunder Bay, saw an impressive number of people of all ages come out to learn about South Asian cultures not widely represented in Rainy River District.

This got me thinking: Is it time to revive Culturama?

Many residents over a certain age remember fondly the annual multi-cultural celebration which ran here from approximately 1980 to 1996, and made a three-year comeback from 2000 to 2003. It was made possible due to the hard work of the Rainy Lake Multicultural Association.

The final Culturama, held in conjunction with the town's centennial year, featured the Fort Frances Highlanders, a Caribbean band, an Eastern European band, Irish dancers, Japanese drummers, a Chilean band, Métis square dancers and jiggers, an African musician, a Serbian folk ensemble, Portuguese dancers, German dancers, and Chinese “lion dancers.”

It's not an overstatement to say Culturama was a big deal.

But like all good things, it ran its course. By the final Culturama, not only was attendance somewhat down but the organizers, some of whom had been involved with Culturama all along, got burnt out.

It was unfortunate but understandable.

But what's to say Culturama couldn't be revived?

Not only could new volunteers full of energy and ideas take the reins—with some advice from their experienced forerunners—but the town now has a fantastic new venue—the Rainy Lake Square—in which to hold the community event.

A big consideration with Culturama in the past was the cost of bringing in acts from out of town to entertain. But maybe this new Culturama could be on a smaller scale and focus on the customs and traditions found right here in Rainy River District.

We are a diverse community. Anishinaabe, French-Canadian, Ukrainian, South Asian, Swiss, Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Irish, Scottish, English, Filipino, Dutch, German, Polish, South African, West African—and that's just a start.

Maybe it could be a one-day event, where everyone comes together from various backgrounds, or maybe it could be a summerlong series of workshops, performances and so on focusing on one culture at a time.

While we all have much in common as Canadians, we also have differences and those should be celebrated.

It's time we learn more about each other.

—Duane Hicks

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