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Indo-Canadian Cultural Festival

In 2016, the Consulate General of India’s office in Vancouver came up with an idea to showcase the rich cultural tapestry of the Indian diaspora living in British Columbia. This cultural festival was aptly named NAMASTE CANADA. Namaste in Indian culture signifies respectful greetings with both palms and fingers joined together, metaphorically depicting the union of two nations ­­– Canada and India – their people, arts, language, cuisine joined together and celebrating a unity in diversity!

As one can imagine, this vision and theme caught on and widened its reach and appeal to a broad spectrum of people. Entering its second year, the 2017 festival brought together over 20-cultural societies from BC, representing the entire Indian sub-continent and their arts, music, dances, food and other cultural practices into a truly mega event, spread over 2-days (Bell Arts, September 3-4).

I was invited as one of the members of the organizing committee of this mega event. Among other things, the Consulate General introduced me to other members of the committee and touched on our work at DDA. This sparked an interest among the attendees and several people inquired further after the meeting. Among South Asians, particularly the new immigrants, there is a lack of awareness about developmental disabilities and what resources are available in BC, to help deal with their situations and needs for their loved ones. Needless to say that “Namaste Canada” is a great platform to shine light on this area and spread public awareness.

With the excellent help and support of DDA staff, our clients diligently and enthusiastically practiced to present their group dance to a very catchy Bollywood song. This is not the first time that our clients were performing. In fact, they did in the inaugural 2016 festival. They continue to perform to packed audiences at the Shiamak’s spring, summer, and winter funk festivals. It is only made possible by the dedication and voluntary commitments of our staff members. Special thanks to Danielle, Tasia and the Shiamaks instructor Jagmehar Grewal.
On behalf of the performers, I would personally like to thank DDA for engagement, encouragement and support in this inclusive endeavor!

By Ratnam Mathur, program manager