Multicultural festival brings food, dance and community to London

After two long years of pandemic-related restrictions, the London Multicultural Festival made its grand return at the Covent Garden Market on Sunday.

Hundreds of Londoners were in attendance to enjoy a variety of food, performances and goods from countries and cultures from around the world.

“This is much bigger than we thought, and the community really stepped up to the plate to help us plan with so much energy, people were hungry to have something like this again,” said Jack Malkin, president of the London Multicultural Community Association ( LMCA).

Due to the changing nature of restrictions, LMCA had to scramble to put the event together in the span of about two months. Here’s a look at the vendors who jumped at the opportunity to participate.

Sharing traditions

Kylie Petahtegoose (left), Mary Capton (center), and Amber White (right) formed “Three Sisters Beadwork” to reconnect with their Indigenous culture. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

What started out as a way to reconnect to their Indigenous roots through beadwork, has turned into a lifelong bond of sisterhood for Mary Capton, Amber White, and Kylie Petahtegoose.

Together, they’re known as ‘Three Sisters Beadwork’, each of whom come from different First Nations communities of the Six Nations, Mi’kmaw, and Atikameksheng.

“We’re chosen sisters and our name reflects corns, beans, and squash, which are the three main food groups for a lot of First Nations groups, and their planting method is very intertwined, which is just like our values,” said Capton .

The trio want to share their culture with others, while also educating them on the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation.

“Our pieces are unique and a reflection of who we are. We have a wide variety of methods that we use, and traditional materials. It’s really nice to have our own voice in our work, which is part of storytelling as well,” said White.

A taste of culture

Cornelie Mbaya and her friends are showcasing their Congolese delicacies (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Cornelie Mbaya brought a taste of her native Congolese cuisine to the festival. This was her first year of her participating in her, and she admitted being very nervous. But seeing all the customers take interest in the food she was cooking, she was proud to represent her culture.

“It was great for us as Canadians from Congo to be here and present our food to others,” she said.

She said the top seller at her booth were BBQ chicken and traditional “beignets” which are a type of donut in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Agnibh Bhattacharaya is showcasing traditional mud-mirror jewelry, commonly worn in western India (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Agnibh Bhattacharaya’s booth was filled with mud-mirror jewellery, which he said is common in western parts of India, like Gujarat. Since he didn’t have mud, he improvised with clay.

“We molded clay in different forms for earrings and then we attached mirrors together, and then we have handcrafted designs on the clay itself,” he said.

Bhattacharya really enjoyed his first time at the festival and is glad to see how many people expressed an interest in his culture and its traditional jewellery.

Celebrating different cultures

George Tzortzis and Michelle Wertsch brought their newborn to enjoy the festival. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Londoners who attended the festival were thrilled to see the diversity on display in their own city.

George Tzortzis and Michelle Wertsch brought their newborn baby to the event. What caught their attention was the music and bustling atmosphere.

“We’re a family of different cultures and our little baby is half German, half Greek and so we love celebrating that,” Tzortzis said.

They were happy to be out and about and see a large crowd after two years of the event being at a halt.

Mariam Rezaei took part in an Iranian folk-dance which she said is a celebration of happiness and togetherness. She and her family de ella were excited to see the large turnout at the festival.

Banafsheh Khavaran, left, and Homeira Ahar, right wore their traditional clothing from Iran to represent their culture at the festival. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

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