July 17th, 2024

Eye on the Esplanade: My small part in a multi-cultural community

By Tobie Laliberte on March 7, 2024.

Last Saturday, for the third year in a row, I had the opportunity to participate in the Kid’s Passport to the World event at the Esplanade, not as an employee, but rather as an improvised “sugar maker” with one of my sons, preparing and serving delicious “tire sur la neige” (maple taffy on snow).

This multi-cultural event is a showcase of local organizations, welcoming and connecting with our community. I was delighted once more to meet people of all ages and origins that had never before sampled the maple candy.

My first instinct when somebody asked where that delicacy is from was to say it is a treat from Quebec. However, I caught myself in time to explain that the Europeans that landed there learned to make maple syrup and sugar from the First Nations that were here and had done so for a long time. Maple productions are also seen in Ontario as well as some of the Northeastern states of the United States – basically everywhere there are Sugar Maple, you can expect the different maple extract variations (sap, syrup, taffy, butter, sugar etc.) to exist.

This one facet of my upbringing is a part of the fabric of my culture; our culture. Walking around the building that day, one could have experienced many aspects of our and others heritage. This diversity is part of us, and we’re becoming part of it. The plurality of a community, like the beauty of different languages, is really something to marvel at, feel fortunate about, engage and seek to appreciate. Someday, if it isn’t already, it will be an integral part of who we are and we will be richer for it.

I’ve been fortunate to attend many events at the Esplanade and Co-op Place in the last few months and over the years. In marketing, it is said that your target audience can’t be everyone, but these 101 notions is hard not to apply at the Esplanade. I’ve seen the multi-generational and diversity of our patrons attending the same event. Perhaps every event, program or exhibition has their own specific main audience to target, but one thing for sure is that everyone is welcome here and can find something to enjoy! Events are never only for one homogenous group, and we enrich our community when we share the space with people from various backgrounds and different ages.

Currently in the galleries, we have 3 exhibitions showcasing the diversity of the prairies with Indigenous artist George Littlechild’s Here I am – Can You See Me, “giving remembrance, recognition, honour and validation to the thousands of innocent children that nobody is able to recognize…”, Jamaican born Calgary artist Jae Sterling’s Julian’s Dread, exploring symbols of Jamaican youth, Christian Fanaticism, Magical Realism and Theosophy, and Manitoba photojournalist Tim Smith’s In the World but Not of It, featuring the experiences of six Hutterite colonies across the Canadian Prairies.

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Tobie Laliberte is the marketing specialist for the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre

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