On October 14 we hosted a free event to celebrate Arts & Culture as well as Community Inclusion month! October is Community Inclusion Month – our celebration was designed to promote inclusion, celebrate diversity and increase awareness about communities being stronger when everyone is valued equally. Full inclusion is something we want for ALL people. We see such value in arts and culture as a way of communication and expression – it is a universal language. For that reason, we wanted to celebrate this Community Inclusion Month by creating a space/opportunity to not only celebrate local artists, but to strengthen relationships within our community as well as develop new ones! We featured visual art, music and foods that represent the many cultures, nationalities, and identities found in Surrey and neighbouring cities alike.

We were lucky to have a wonderful MC – Nate Toevs, Marketing Manager, Work BC Assistive Technology Services. Our event opened with a Territorial Acknowledgement by Chief Harley Chappell – Semiahmoo First Nation. We had 6 speakers (Honourable Harry Bains – Minister of Labour, Stephanie Cadieux – Chief Accessibility Officer of Canada, Philip Aguirre – Executive Director Newton Business Improvement Association, Janice Barr – CEO Community Living Society, Ross Chilton – CEO Community Living BC, and Joanne Mills – Executive Director of Indigenous Relations Community Living BC) who spoke about the importance of Arts and Culture, as well as Inclusion and Diversity. We had 2 musical acts – Kwantlen First Nation Drummer and Singer Dennis Leon and Phase III Steel Pan Band. Local artists had displays and a few did live art demos – painting, wood carving and glass art). We were also able to offer Mehndi by 2 talented artists. In addition to invited guests, we had many community members pop by to enjoy the event. The food was aplenty, we purchased samplings from local business and many guests commented on the variety of foods and were happy to experience different foods from many different cultures!

Thank you to Neighbourhood Small Grants and Oak Avenue Neighbourhood Hub for their grant and to the City of Surrey for our Arts and Cultural grant.

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