Aché Brasil performs at the 2018 Surrey Fusion Festival. The annual event is one of the recipients of federal multiculturalism funding announced at Newton Cultural Centre on Sept. 6. (File photo: Ryan McLeod)

Aché Brasil performs at the 2018 Surrey Fusion Festival. The annual event is one of the recipients of federal multiculturalism funding announced at Newton Cultural Centre on Sept. 6. (File photo: Ryan McLeod)

MINTY: Surrey Fusion Festival a fine fit for federal multicultural funding

In Surrey, feds announce $3.5M for events/projects that promote diversity, education and inclusion

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

Diversity is at the heart of our national identity – so says our federal government.

The Government of Canada not only states their commitment to diversity, they have put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

Last Friday (Sept. 6) in Surrey, Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence and MP for Vancouver South, did speak out and announced federal investments of more than $3.5 million to B.C. in support of multiculturalism, community activities and events and anti-racism initiatives throughout the province.

In June 2019, the feds announced an investment of $45 million for Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019-2022. This strategy is to help advance the vision of fostering and promoting a more inclusive and equitable country for all Canadians. Sounds impressive, but that is a big chore and challenge. Sometimes it is just human nature to distrust or dislike other humans who do not think, look or act the same way we do. It is sort of like telling a dysfunctional family to love one another. Right?

This funding announced Sept. 6 was disbursed to 47 organizations across B.C. to support events and projects that promote diversity, education and inclusion.

• READ MORE: $3.5M boost for B.C. multicultural, anti-racism initiatives announced in Surrey.

But that is not my story this week.

My story is about the Arts Council of Surrey. The feds made their announcement at Newton Cultural Centre, home to the arts council, among five Surrey-based organizations to benefit from the funding. It was designated for Surrey Fusion Festival.

Arts council president Carol Girardi had this to say: “The Arts Council of Surrey is grateful to the Government of Canada for their generous support of Surrey Fusion Festival. This festival is B.C.’s largest multicultural event and is known as the ultimate celebration of food, music, culture, and the literary, performing and visual arts. Working with the City of Surrey, the Arts Council of Surrey is able to utilize this important funding to continue celebrating our creative diversity.”

So yes, thank you, federal government, for this initiative, and when it comes to promoting diversity, harmony and respect for different cultures, Surrey Fusion Festival gets top marks. More than 100,000 people attended this year’s festival in July, and it certainly was a celebration of the arts and multiculturalism. There is food, dance, art and music from around the world — not just one ethnic group. Get Canadian poutine, and watch bhangra dance and then visit the Canadian pavilion (hosted by the arts council) and learn more about notable Canadians and other fun facts. All in all, this Fusion Festival absolutely defines and exemplifies what this new federal strategy hopes to accomplish: promote intercultural acceptance and awareness of all cultures and traditions. It is amazing.

I’m not done yet praising the arts council for their contribution to the Surrey Fusion Festival. We in Surrey are famous for this festival, just in case you missed that fact. In January this year, Surrey Fusion Festival was honoured with the 2019 International Award for Best Festival at the Special Events Magazine gala in San Diego. So, we have official recognition that it is the best and, even better, it is free for all to attend. No admission charge. It is for everyone, and about everyone who lives here. I think it truly represents and presents the very heart and soul of this new federal initiative. The Arts Council of Surrey is volunteer-power at its best.

While not everyone, apparently, is in favor of diversity and multiculturalism as a good thing, I am voting for the continuing efforts of the Arts Council of Surrey and events like Surrey Fusion Festival. We can celebrate our differences, speak different languages, have differing styles in clothing. Personally, I feel if you can’t dance in it, don’t wear it – but that is just me. The Arts Council of Surrey accepts and celebrates who I am and what I contribute to the community and opens the doors for education and understanding. It’s called respect. What a concept.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. Email her at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP Constable Mike Della-Paolera as seen in a cut-out used for the detachment’s Operation Double Take program. (File photo)
Surrey’s tall ‘Operation Double Take’ cop is on the move

Cut-out of Constable Mike Della-Paolera used in program to curb speeding and dangerous driving

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

Family and friends of Hudson Brooks marched as part of a call for answers from an IIO investigation into his 2015 death. (Black Press Media files)
Inquest to look into RCMP shooting death of Hudson Brooks

Charges agains the RCMP officer who shot Brooks were stayed in 2019

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Delta Police dog retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Rent dropped to 2019 rates across parts of Metro Vancouver in December: report

Rent costs have declined since May, a trend expected to continue due in part to the COVID pandemic

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read