Kamloops celebrates cultural diversity with annual walk

By Jill Sperling
June 14, 2018 - 4:53pm Updated: June 14, 2018 - 5:30pm

KAMLOOPS — It's an annual event that brings people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds together. 

The Walk to Embrace Cultural Diversity is organized by Kamloops Immigrant Services and celebrates the many people groups that live in this city. 

Carrying signs and flags, dozens of Kamloops residents gathered to celebrate cultural diversity and stand together against racism. 

"The thing about racism is it's often lack of awareness," said long time organizer Paul Lagace. "People don't know each other and then they tend to look for differences rather than similarities. We have a lot of similarities, and that's what we're trying to bring forward to this event." 

For more than 20 years the walk has brought together both long-time Canadian residents and newcomers. 

"One of the things that people don't know is we generally get an average of 200-250 newcomers every year in Kamloops," Lagace said, "it's been going on like this for 20 year, more than 20 years. So, it's not new, it's just that the influx of the refugees made a bit of a splash, if you wish, and so people were concerned." 

It's that concern that makes the walk even more important for its participants. 

"Sometimes people think, 'well, we've come so far, we don't need to have these sorts of demonstrations or walks,'" said City Councillor Kathy Sinclair, "but I really think that especially right now in North America, with the climate and the way things are, we really need to show that everybody is welcome."

Originally from Syria, Husni Salama has been in Kamloops for just over a year. 

He joined the walk to show his appreciation for the diverse cultures in this community. 

"From the beginning I've liked any activity talking about any culture, any people. I'm with the Indigenous people, I'm with that," He said.

Salama feels it's important that everyone is welcomed into the community, something he feels fortunate to have experienced himself. 

"It's very important for us, and everybody talks to us all the time, welcomes us and supports us and helps us to be in this culture, in this country, in this land."

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