St. Thomas Times Journal February 19th, 2016

There are many different cultures and ethnicities in St. Thomas which make this community so special and all residents will get an opportunity to experience that diversity first-hand.
The St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership (STELIP) is inviting the community to Moving Forward, a celebration of diversity in St. Thomas and Elgin.
Originally started in 2012, Petrusia Hontar, STELIP Project Coordinator, said the evening has involved quite a bit since the inaugural event.
“Back then we had a cocktail hour and presentations so it was very formal,” said Hontar. “Now it’s very interactive.”
Visitors can drop-in from 5-7 p.m. at the St. Thomas Seniors Centre, 225 Chestnut St., on Wednesday, Feb. 24 to partake in an Aboriginal smudging ceremony, traditional dancing, drum circle, henna and more.
“There will be some international desserts, coffee and tea for people to taste and programming for children … arts and crafts. People will have the opportunity to explore the realm of different cultures, specifically the ones that exist here,” she said.
Furthermore the evening will feature displays and information from the Local Immigration Partnership, Cultural Diversity Committee, Unite for Refugees, Mennonite Community Services, and YWCA Settlement Services, and talk with representatives from those organizations.
Last year more that 200 people attended the Moving Forward event and Hontar is hoping that more will attend next Wednesday’s session.
“St. Thomas has a long-standing history of refugee resettlement. We have a very large Cambodian population here and I think that with the Syrian issue there is more discussion, awareness and understanding of different cultures and how they interact and what they bring to the community,” she pointed out.
According to Hontar, the event is always met with overwhelming response from those in attendance, giving residents exposure to different cultures in a respectful way.
“Everyone with an open mind will enjoy this,” she said.

Want to know more?

Moving Forward, a celebration of diversity

Wednesday, Feb. 24 from 5-7 p.m.

St. Thomas Seniors Centre, 225 Chestnut St.

Admission is free

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