CAMAT’s annual event draws a packed room of celebrators.
By Leah Ching, Staff Writer
“More diversity is always a good thing.” Councillor Aldo Ruberto, acting as stand-in mayor for the City of Thunder Bay, offered these warm opening remarks to the packed crowd in his opening address for CAMAT’s Black History Month Gala last Saturday. Held at the Italian Hall, the Caribbean African Multicultural Association of Thunder Bay hosted a spectacular Black History Month Gala that was sold out and packed to the brim with a diverse range of guests and celebrators. “For anyone that wants to live in our city, you are very welcome. More diversity will never be a bad thing.” Thanking the organizers of the event, along with the Multicultural Society of Thunder Bay for their work in the community, the councillor opened the event by highlighting the diversity that the event so wonderfully celebrated.
Over the course of the evening, guests enjoyed a spectacular Caribbean meal, complete with Jamaican beef patties, pumpkin soup, rice jollop, curried vegetables and a spicy jerk chicken that was enough to make some of the guests sweat. Topped off with a pineapple-topped ice cream dish, the meal was (for the author of this piece), reminiscent of a Sunday lunch during childhood in Trinidad.
Vishnu Kowlessar, a member of CAMAT for over 20 years and native of Trinidad, delivered a speech to the crowd reminding us why we gathered to celebrate black lives. “We need to celebrate black achievements. Our children need people to look up to—our children need role models.”
The gala was a splendid event, apart from a fantastic dinner; the real highlights of the night were the celebrations of African and Caribbean culture, including a traditional fashion show, a dance performance by AFCASA, and a moving poetic performance about femininity/masculinity and motherhood by a member of AFCASA. In a small community with a predominantly white majority, it was incredibly moving to see such a large and varied crowd turn out to celebrate diversity.
Diana Atkinson, President of CAMAT spoke to The Argus about her experience organizing the event. “It was such a pleasure to work with AFCASA as they joined forces with us. A non-profit community group, working with an university campus association, I think that’s huge.” Speaking about the impact of the event she said, “Now we have more students sign up for the CAMAT scholarship. That’s what we want to do to give back to our community here in Thunder Bay. I was so happy to see the diverse community come together to share a common goal, which is to unite.” Atkinson thanked those who helped to organize the event, and thanked everyone who came out to attend.
One elderly attending couple; the husband a Canadian, married to a Jamaican born immigrant, told The Argus that they had been attending for over 20 years. Enjoying the dancing and diverse company each year, they said events like this “kept them young.”
For more information about CAMAT and to hear about their events, ‘like’ The CAMAT facebook page, or check out CAMAT.ca