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September 24, 2018 September 24, 2018

Cultural diversity in the spotlight

Posted on August 1, 2018 by Dave Sulz
Lethbridge Herald file photo by Ian Martens Anel Balderes dances in a flurry of colour with the Mexicanos Sin Fronteras dance group during the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association’s Heritage Day festivities in 2017 at Exhibition Park.

Lethbridge’s expansive multiculturalism will be on display Aug. 6 during the annual Heritage Day celebration put on by the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association (SAEA).
Some 25 to 30 local cultural groups will be involved in the event, which is moving to the Enmax Centre this year.
As usual, there will be musical and dance entertainment showcasing a variety of cultures, along with a dozen different food booths also featuring an assortment of ethnic cuisine. In addition, there will be craft vendors, kids’ crafts, face painting and more.
The event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Heritage Day, with admission for adults set at $5 and for children 2 and over, $2. Children under 2 will be admitted free.
The popular event is an opportunity for residents to learn a little more about the different cultures that make up Lethbridge’s population. It can be an eye-opening experience for citizens who may not realize how the city’s multiculturalism has expanded through the years.
“The diversity is just growing by leaps and bounds,” said Tara Gillanders of the SAEA. “We want to make sure Lethbridge is a welcoming community, and for people to feel comfortable here and want to share their culture.”
One way to do that is through events like the Heritage Day celebration as well as the monthly ethnic dinners held throughout the year.
“It’s our largest event of the year and probably our most significant,” Gillanders said of the Heritage Day event. “People see some really unique and different cultures.”
As one example, Gillanders points out the event will feature participation from the local Sri Lankan community, a group which many residents might be surprised to discover even exists in Lethbridge.
Lethbridge also features a strong Latin community.
“The Latin community is just exploding in Lethbridge,” said Gillanders. “They’re young, energetic and entrepreneurial. They’re probably the fastest-growing organization.”
Bringing citizens from different cultures together to foster greater understanding is one of the goals of the SAEA.
“That’s one of our primary reasons for existing,” Gillanders said, “not just to support various cultural groups but also to educate people in Lethbridge about the wonderful people who have moved from all around the world and share their cultures with us.”
Last year’s Heritage Day celebration attracted more than 2,000 people and Gillanders hopes the event will draw similar numbers this year as it moves to the Enmax Centre after being previously held at Exhibition Park.
“We’re hoping the new location really adds to the experience for people,” said Gillanders, noting the Enmanx offers a more central location.
Find out more about the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association online at saea.ca.

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