by Trevor Fik (Staff Writer)
The third year of the Abbotsford Multicultural Festival (ABBYFEST) begins September 18. This year’s event will showcase various international cultures through a variety of displays and interactive exhibits, and will also feature a fashion show put on by UFV international students.
The festival was originally established by organizers for individuals in the community to celebrate their culture and tradition in a way that they could showcase their ancestry, while still maintaining a strong connection to their Canadian culture.
ABBYFEST is completely “student led,” festival organizer Hargun Dhutt said. In the past years the festival was organized by Dwayne De Souza and Drishya Kavishwar, both former students of UFV.
Students, community members and volunteers educate and showcase their cultural diversity by putting on displays and exhibits, through various arts and crafts, with dances and entertainment, and also by delivering up a wide variety of ethnic food.
One of the major attractions of ABBYFEST, and one of the central facets of UFV’s involvement, is the fashion show put on by a number of UFV’s international students. The display of traditional clothing from countries worldwide is accompanied by music native to the country along with commentary on the outfit and display.
While being a place to broaden your knowledge on the diverse range of individuals making up our community, ABBYFEST is also a place to network and communicate with individuals who make-up that community. After the fashion show is complete, individuals who participated in the fashion show relocate to the World Culture Garden where the public is able to walk from individual to individual, and has an opportunity to meet all of the students that took part in the show. Students take this opportunity to explain different details of their respective cultures, on a wide range of topics, including traditional dress, customs, food, culture, and so on.
The goal of the festival is to “increase public awareness of multiculturalism, build and sustain a harmonious foundation of trust, mutual respect, social cohesion, better understanding and develop strong bonds among people.” Individuals participating in ABBYFEST are encouraged to celebrate their culture in a way that “promotes strong social cohesion” within the community, according to the official ABBYFEST web site.
Dhutt added that the “festival is open to everyone…they don’t have to be [an international student] to volunteer or be in the fashion show.”
The festival is open to the public and is free of charge. It will run from 9.30 a.m. until 7 p.m. on September 18, and will take place in the Abbotsford Ag Rec building which is located on 32470 Haida Drive. Students interested in volunteering at the ABBYFEST are encouraged to consult the official website. Contact information and other information for the event can be found at www.abbyfest.com.