London celebrations

‘People meet people’: London’s multicultural festival returns on Sunday – London

After a two-year hiatus, the London Multicultural Festival returns to Covent Garden Market in London, Ontario on Sunday.

“The heart of the festival is the ethnic presentation of local communities,” said Jack Malkin, chairman of the London Multicultural Community Association.

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Londoners will be able to watch various performances by local artists, take part in cultural dances and attend displays put on by vendors in the market, all to celebrate and “enjoy diversity in London”.

“And what’s an event without food?” said Malkin. “We have 10 different cuisines so it’s all about the combination of food, exhibits and shows and we also have activities for the kids.”

In partnership with the London Children’s Museum, the festival will hold a booth called “The Science of Sound Programming”, where children can experiment with tuning forks, a resonating bowl and other culturally inclusive instruments.

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Mira Noordermeer, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the London Children’s Museum, stressed the importance of having activities and exhibits accessible to all children and families.

“When we say accessible, we mean culturally, physically and financially,” Noordermeer said. “This program is designed to be open so children can bring their own identities and experiences to it and also allow themselves to explore this in new ways with other families.”

Malkin said not being able to hold the annual festival for the past two years was difficult, to say the least.

“London has become very diverse, much more than 10 or 20 years ago,” Malkin said. “The local ethnic communities who are so proud of their culture and heritage are so happy for every opportunity they have to introduce them and talk to people in the wider community and share their experiences and stories.

“It was hard not to do it for two years,” Malkin said. “People have been waiting for this and all the energy is erupting.”

Despite anticipating the festival’s long-awaited return, Malkin said they are on a short notice to prepare for this year’s event.

“In a normal year, we start planning for the June event in January. But this year, believe it or not, we started planning at the end of March,” Malkin said.

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“But the community and the volunteers stepped up to do it, and we’re in really good shape now.”

Amy Shackleton, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Events and Marketing for Covent Garden Market, said: “It’s great to finally be able to do this stuff again and celebrate diversity here in our community.”

Click to play video: 'London, ON marks 1st anniversary of attack on Muslim family'

London, Ont., marks 1st anniversary of attack on Muslim family

London, Ont., marks 1st anniversary of attack on Muslim family

Earlier this week, the London community honored the Afzaal family and the anniversary of their deaths in what authorities said was a hate-motivated attack.

On June 6, 2021, the Afzaal family were out for a walk when they were hit by a man in a van on the corner of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna Afzaal, and Salman’s mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed. The couple’s nine-year-old son suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries and survived the attack.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attack “an act of hatred and terror” as police said the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, is accused of deliberately hitting the family with his van. He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in what prosecutors say was an act of terrorism.

Marking the anniversary of last Monday’s attack, various events including a prayer service and public vigil were held for the London community to honor the Afzaal family.

“It was here, in our house, and it was brutal,” said Shaikh Aarij Anwer, director of religious affairs at the London Muslim Mosque. “We have been confronted with this reality in a very difficult way.”

Shackleton expressed the importance of showcasing and celebrating the diverse cultures, communities and people who have chosen to call London home.

“It’s important to celebrate different cultures, different foods, ethnicities, and just show that everyone can come together in one space,” Shackleton said.

Malkin hopes to see this at the London Multicultural Festival on Sunday.

“It’s about meeting people and sharing experiences,” Malkin said.

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