Thousands come to Abbotsford Multicultural Festival

In the annual coming-together of Abbotsford cultures, thousands of people visited Abbyfest, the Abbotsford Multicultural Festival, on Saturday at the Ag-Rec Building at Exhibition Park.

Pictures of incredible architecture adorn the Saudi Arabia table part of the UFV display at AbbyFest 2011.

In the annual coming-together of Abbotsford cultures, thousands of people visited Abbyfest, the Abbotsford Multicultural Festival, on Saturday at the Ag-Rec Building at Exhibition Park.

Visitors could see demonstrations, entertainment and food from other cultures.

The Saudi Culture International Club offered people a chance put themselves in a scene out of the Middle East. They could don traditional Saudi garb, men in a white robe and white and red head covering, and have a photo taken in a traditional Saudi guest room that was made up inside their pavilion.

The group represents about 100 Saudi students who attend UFV, and spokesman Mohammad Abaalkhail said they attend Abbyfest every year.

“It’s great. It gives people an opportunity to know about other cultures, and get to know each other,” he said.

He said people are less likely to make negative judgements about a people or their culture based on stereotypes when they have positive first-hand experience to draw on.

The photo-op the Saudi club provided was popular, and they were set to email photos to many people after the event.

Surrounded by tables full of beaded buckskin vests, moccassins and other traditional first nations garments, Henry Hall of the Fraser Valley Metis Association said the festival is a great way for his group to get their message out.

While the heart of the Metis nation is in Manitoba, Hall said there are 44,000 who have moved to British Columbia.

“We’ve parked the skidoo and bought a canoe,” he said.

He was the founder of the local association, which holds monthly meetings and operates a training centre teaching everything from culinary arts to carpentry. He’s a big fan of Abbyfest.

“We get to share our culture, and who we are,” he said, pointing to antoher man who was making traditional rattles, and inviting visitors to try a buffalo burger or some pemmican.

“When you get this many cultures in one building it says a lot. Canada truly is a multicultural country,” said Hall. “I’m just sitting here, enjoying the world.”

There was much to see, from demonstrations of bellydancing and Sun Hang Do martial arts, music and dancing on the stage from a wide variety of groups.

It was a place to buy carvings from Zimbabwe, lessons in playing the Sitar and other traditional Indian music, or talk to Westjet about travel.

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