The Skeena Diversity Society office on Lazelle Avenue was transformed Oct. 25 for a Diwali-themed version of their weekly International Cooking Night dinners.
Colourful candles decorated with intricate detailing and warm, hanging lights lit up the room. The smell of chickpeas and rice, hot oil from the pakora, and the sweet smell of chai drew in myself and fellow reporter Natalia. The room was packed.
Saša Loggin, Skeena Diversity project director, asked everyone to say where they were born. London, Russia, India, Wales were just some of the places shouted out. It was a refreshing reminder of how lucky we are to have such a rich, diverse population in Terrace.
For the most part, as my family moved every two years, I grew up in white suburbia. My neighbourhoods didn’t have much diversity — I went to Catholic school, where we all listened to the same music, had the same look, and practised the same religion. Our community was close-knit, but it was lacking.
It wasn’t until I spent a semester working in Washington, D.C., that I was exposed to people with different skin tones, different cultures and interests. I lived with roommates from Delhi and Pakistan, who brought me to my first Diwali celebration in the city. After a hard day at work, there was nothing more comforting than coming back to our apartment filled with heavy aromas of coriander, cumin and garam masala.
Without them, I would have lived a very shielded life.
Identity and culture is something inherently special to each of us, and something for which we should all be proud. Take the fundraiser organized by Terrace’s Sikh community last Saturday at the Gobind Mall. The lunch by donation, with tables full of channa masala, rice, pakora and chai tea, raised $8,527 in just three hours for the Dr. REM Lee Hospital Foundation to help purchase a new ophthalmic surgical microscope. Volunteers paid for the food out of their own pockets, and took two days to cook everything.
There are some who fear a multicultural society, those who have convinced themselves that their own identity is being threatened by. Canada itself is colourful, with its skin colours, clothing colours, churches, mosques and landscapes. It’s what makes this country unique.
Next Friday, do yourself a favour and stop by the Skeena Diversity Centre at 5 p.m. When we can lift each other up and celebrate where we came from, it will only make our community stronger.
Brittany Gervais is the senior reporter at The Terrace Standard.