York’s Multicultural Week begins to the beat of drums

York Samba leads parade

Above: Members of York Samba lead the parade to open Multicultural Week at York

The clamour of drumbeats filled York Lanes Monday, announcing the start of Multicultural Week, York’s award-winning festival of student culture which runs until Thursday.

Members of York Samba kicked off the largest week-long event at York, joined by people from about half of the 45 student clubs represented. Multicultural Week is one of the highlights of the year, coming in the depth of winter when the blahs hit hardest. The celebration has received significant media attention in past years and promises to do the same again as special media guests from CBC Radio and the Toronto Star visit for a panel discussion today at 1pm. The festival takes place in York Lanes and the Student Centre, attracting more than 10,000 students annually.

ukrainian flag girl“York is at the heart of the most multicultural city in the country and Multicultural Week is a wonderful way to celebrate the diversity that makes this University great,” said Lorna R. Marsden, York president and vice-chancellor.

Right: Bozena Hrycyna, third year Arts student and member of the York Ukrainian Students Club

This year’s theme is Celebrate Diversity and culture is the focus of the week. More than 60 different campus student clubs participate through displays, booths and the food fair. Flags from around the world, representing all participating cultures, decorate the York Lanes Mall. The main stage showcases 30 different performances by dancers, singers and cultural groups.

iran club table“This is our biggest event of the year,” said Daanish Khan, a fourth-year sociology/law & society student and York is U volunteer. “It really brings people together and it’s what we stand for.” Khan noted that, despite the mix of sometimes opposing cultures, the event is notably free from political conflict and serves as a great stress-reliever coming just before mid-term exams.

Left: Far left, Negor Arbabian, second-year economics student, and, left, Laleh Dadgardoust, a third-year psychology student, help set up the Iranian Students Association table

Multicultural Week has been recognized internationally, winning a silver Accolade Award for Student Involvement Programs in 2003, its debut year, from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Events run daily from 10am to 3pm with 45 student clubs hosting display tables. A new sound system helps spread the excitement of the music throughout the length of York Lanes. Visitors can enjoy the new daily food fair, displays and cultural presentations. Included in this year’s entertainment lineup were a prize giveaway, fashion show and performance by the York U Dance Team. Today’s events include the special panel discussion on The Visible Majority where journalists Ing Wong Ward of CBC Radio’s Metro Morning and Nicholas Keung, immigration/diversity reporter for the Toronto Star, will discuss ethnic representation in the media at 1pm on the central stage.

jeremy greenberg

Above: Jeremy Greenberg, coordinator of student alumni programs, leads the cheers at Multicultural Week’s kick-off

York is U, the official student alumni program, hosts Multicultural Week each year. “York University is proud to be recognized as a multicultural community,” said Naguib Gouda, executive director of Alumni & Advancement Services, adding, “In addition to multi-ethnic Canadian students, York’s international student population draws from more than 130 countries.”

To add his own unique touch to the celebration, Egyptian-born Gouda will make a speech in six languages today at 12:30pm on the central performance stage.