Energy and enthusiasm abound as Multicultural Week kicks off

Bone chilling temperatures on Monday did little to quash the enthusiasm of York students participating in the kickoff for York’s Multicultural Week. Dancing to the rhythms of York’s Samba Squad, people from 60 student clubs dressed in traditional garb, danced and waved flags as they paraded from the CIBC Foyer of the Accolade East Building to York Lanes.

Above: York students braved -15 degrees C. temperatures to participate in York’s Multicultural parade. Croatian students had the most colourful display.

One of the largest events at York, Multicultural Week offers students an opportunity to showcase their traditional costumes, dances and food during a four-day festival. This year’s bash kicked off Monday with a parade that was followed by a food fair in the Underground Restaurant at York’s Student Centre. Over 10,000 students participated in the event last year and organizers expect this year’s turnout to be even larger.

"Thank you everyone for coming out to the largest Multicultural Week celebration ever and truly showcasing York’s diversity," said third-year student Nawab Mohammed Farhan Ali, signature events director for York’s student alumni program, York is U. "This year, Multicultural Week is seeing more student clubs than ever before participating in the event. Over 60 clubs from York University are participating and students from all faculties are involved."

Right: Rob Tiffin, York VP students, officially kicked off Multicultural Week

"Multicultural Week is now in its sixth year and it truly is becoming a tradition here at York. And every year it gets bigger and better," said Robert Tiffin, York vice-president students. "One of the events I particularly enjoy is the food fair at the Underground."

Tiffin deliberately kept his remarks short and joked that he did not want to delay the parade any longer. He officially opened Multicultural Week by beating a traditional Japanese drum. Students then danced their way out of the building to music supplied by York’s Samba Squad. They moved across the snowy Harry Arthurs Common into York Lanes and ended their parade in the Student Centre.

This year’s theme, Celebrate Diversity, will be on display throughout this week as student clubs host information booths, performances and workshops. Flags from around the world have been hoisted to the rafters in York Lanes creating a rainbow of nations. Today’s events include a number of cross-cultural workshops in the Chancellor’s Room at the Underground Restaurant, from 11am to 2pm. The workshops will be followed by a global fashion show in the Student Centre from 2 to 5pm.

Left: Students paraded through York Lanes. The mall was decorated with flags from around the world.

On Wednesday, catch a series of informative displays in the Global Village, on the first floor of Accolade East, which will be sectioned into continents where clubs will be given the opportunity to express their cultures. The event runs from 11am until 7pm. Overlapping with the Global Village will be a series of performances of traditional music and dance in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre in Accolade East. Performances will include music, dance and other forms of art by the clubs, as well as Toronto’s famed Russian Folklore Theatre and step-dance group Black Ice. The performances run from 2 to 8pm.

Recognized internationally for promoting diversity, York’s Multicultural Week won a silver Accolade Award for Student Involvement in 2003 from the Council for Advancement & Support of Education. The annual event is organized by York is U, York’s student alumni program. Clubs will compete throughout the week through participation in the parade, food fair, global village and stage performances. The winning club will receive a $500 prize for student programming. Students can participate individually in the "Passport to the World" contest by collecting stickers for all activities they attend. When their passport is filled, they enter a draw for exclusive prizes including a trip for two to Montreal, a desktop PC and iPods.

For more details on Multicultural Week activities visit the York is U Web site .