Community volunteer Moti Bali’s dream of a day-long White Rock multicultural festival may be on hold for this year.
But he says that plans are moving ahead for a big event scheduled for Aug. 16, 2020 at Memorial Park.
There will be plenty to celebrate – it will also be the 80th year for the noted sportsman, a former tennis champion in Uganda, India and Canada, who was recognized as an ‘Outstanding Canadian on the Peninsula’ by White Rock council in July of 2018 for his many years of support of “cultural diversity, social acceptance, arts and culture and sports.”
Bali, chair of the International Community Celebration Society – who ran unsuccessfully for a White Rock council seat in last year’s civic elections – had originally planned to reorganize and rebrand the annual Festival of Lights Diwali Integration event he co-founded in 2014 into a fully multicultural festival by the fall of this year.
But in an interview with Peace Arch News last week he said it was decided to suspend the plan while support and fundraising for a new event is consolidated – and because the current focus is on completing restoration of White Rock’s pier, which was seriously damaged in last December’s windstorm.
“The pier is not done yet, and it’s one of the most attractive things for people who come here,” he said.
Since the event will now go beyond celebrating Diwali, Bali said, it makes sense to change it to August from October or November.
“The weather is good in August, while later in year we’re at the mercy of God and the elements,” he said.
He added that he and the society have long wanted their event – even when it was the Festival of Lights Diwali Integration – to focus primarily on bringing together all the cultures in the community.
“The key to this is to make sure that it is to promote love and understanding between the cultures,” he said, adding that ICCS treasurer Adele Yu will play a central role in organizing fundraising for the event.
“SOURCES, the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce and the White Rock BIA are all supporting us and we’ve also asked for grants from the federal and provincial governments.
“Chief Harley Chappell and councillor Joanne Charles of Semiahmoo First Nation have also been very supportive of the Festival of Lights Diwali Integration in past years (the event was held on SFN land in 2017) and they have said they well be very supportive of us next year.”
Bali said the event will run from 2 to 8 p.m. on the waterfront, and will include live entertainment, food trucks and tents for vendors “promoting whatever they want to sell.”
“What we are trying to do is get entertainers from all around the world – we’re looking to the various consulates in Vancouver to come up with people who would be willing to perform.
“This will be a non-political, non-profit event without hidden agendas, representing every culture and religion and promoting respect for each individual in the community,” he said. “We’re all the same under the skin.”
He noted that sponsors will be sought for elements such as a concluding fireworks show and that while the festival is planned to be a sustainable annual event, the society plans to donate between 25 and 30 per cent of proceeds to local charitable causes.
Groups or individuals interested in contributing to, or participating in, the multicultural festival are asked to contact Yu at 604-560-2887 or at firstname.lastname@example.org