Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Surrey Fusion Festival

I finally broke down and attended the end of the Surrey Fusion Festival today. I haven’t been in a few years. Ever since Godzilla started building her Ivory tower I haven’t been feeling very patriotic. My Surrey Pride has disappeared.

Yet tonight it was nice to see. It’s billed as a celebration of music, food and culture and that it is. As I walked in on one side there was ear piercing Bhangra and on the other side there was bone chilling country twang and I was left looking for somewhere else to fit in. It wasn’t really Bhangra it was something else and if they just turned it down a bit it wouldn’t have been so ear piercing. They did perform several pieces that were very nice as did the country group. They even finished off with like a rolling stone and I started feeling much better.

Tons of cultural pavilions and lots of food from many different cultures. It was like a world tour of cuisine. Many from Africa, Latin America and Tonga. I was interested in the Kangaroo burgers from Australia but settled on some chicken and rice from Bolivia and some vegetable pakora from India. It was really nice to see the celebration of cultural diversity.

A few hecklers on the blog previously made some outrageous statements denouncing multiculturalism and I saw a similar offensive letter printed in the Vancouver Province recently. Cultural diversity what being a Canadian is all about. That is the great Canadian Mosaic as opposed to the American melting pot. We can be Canadian but still retain our cultural heritage. A woman can wear a sari and a man can wear a kilt. That is freedom and that is multiculturalism. Diversity makes us strong. In fact there’s a group in Vancouver called gung haggis fat choy that celebrates Asian and Scottish culture together.

The Surrey Fusion Festival helped restore a little Surrey pride but also Canadian pride. After all, Surrey’s little oasis of cultural peace is a model of what Canada is all about. I’ve noticed my nationalism has slipped of late with all these attacks on the charter and the erosion of our civil liberties. Looking at the flag now makes me feel a bit diminished. Yet events like these help rebuild that tarnished image.

Not all Canadians are polite and tolerant. That is something we still have to work on. A friend at work went to Disneyland a while ago and saw a kid with a Canucks shirt on. He asked the family where they were from and the mother was really rude. He said ya know, I’m from Vancouver too. Everyone keeps talking about how rude Americans are but you are more rude than any American I’ve ever met.

My daughter had a friend visit from Texas several years ago. He said everyone here is so angry. Everyone wants to fight me. I said yeah, this is Surrey. He said people are more friendly back home. People are more friendly in America? Texas? That kinda blew away the previous stereotypes. It reminded me of how I was driving along a side street in Blaine and an old man waved his hand at me. I slowed down to see what he wanted and thought oh great, he’s gonna bitch me out for going too fast. Instead he just smiled and waved as I went by. He was just being friendly. Imagine that. Kind of unheard of in our society.

I’ve had a little bit of a conflict lately with some Punjabi pride so to speak. Pride as in arrogance. So here’s me cheering on the Vancouver Bhangra dancers eating vegetable pakora. Obviously there is good and bad in every culture. We need to embrace the good and shun the bad. My daughter works with a young Indo Canadian who is trying to follow the path of his religion. Another Indo Canadian girl comes up to him and says isn’t it hilarious and Vasakhi is on 420 this year? We can get baked and go to Vasakhi. Isn’t that awesome she said. No it’s actually dumb and very disrespectful to our religion was his wise response.

For me diversity means equality. It doesn’t mean we cheer louder for one group above another. The Punjabi Hindu conflict coming here concerns me. People are welcome to bring their culture here just make sure you leave your pride and prejudice at home because that has no place in the society we want to build.

I stopped in at the Palestine booth and looked at some of the beautiful pictures. They even had a poster of the doors of Jerusalem like they have for other countries. They still call it Jerusalem. Salam means peace in Arabic. I realize that conflict is very problematic because Palestinians in Israel are residents not citizens with a passport. Yet the Jews have a right to a home too. Not an exclusive right to the land but an equal claim to it which makes that whole mess very problematic

Some people claim that the Palestinians were there first and the Jews took over after England conquered it and gave it to them. Yet Jews were there before that. Then people claim that the Jews obtained that land originally by genocide. True, but the history of all land ownership has been one group conquering another at some point.

I picked up a hitch hiker on the way to Tofino who claimed to be the war chief from Flores Island and claimed that his uncle was the hereditary chief of that nation. He said that historically there was a conflict between their tribe and another much larger tribe. The larger tribe was greedy and wouldn’t let them hunt or fish in the same territory. They even killed their chief, gutted him and put him on a stick to warn the others.

They responded with a war that ended up driving the bad guys south to California and north to Alaska. He said it’s quite the David and Goliath story because they were a much smaller tribe than their aggressors. He said trading with the white settlers helped them because they got guns from them which helped them defeat their enemies.

Which kinda reinforces what I previously said about how the local natives in Fort Langley benefitted from trading with the settlers because they helped defend them against rival tribes that would raid them and carry them away as slaves. The point is, the Nation that now resides in Tofino conquered it from someone else. Claiming that the California tribe that tried to squeeze them out has a current legal claim on the land because they at one time resided there is a bit silly.

In Israel the Palestinians weren’t the original inhabitants of Gaza. They were the Philistines who were conquered by Ramses in Egypt. If anything Gaza would be better of as a part of Egypt then on it’s own but that conflict is much bigger than you and I. Palestinians have a wonderful culture as well and are welcome here. My point is celebrating diversity is good. Rehashing old disputes is not and the Surrey Fusion Festival is worth supporting.

They even had a really cool booth where you could get your picture taken with whatever background you wanted - the Eiffel tower, the leaning tower of Pizza, even Ayers rock. Come to think of it, there weren't that many European countries represented. They has Polish sausage and perogies from the Ukraine but nothing Irish Scottish, French, German or Swiss. The festival still has room to grow. It's a great place for local restaurants to advertize.


  1. Regardless of ones views on multiculturalism, it's been institutionalized, it can't be discussed rationally, we no longer have a choice in the matter. Why even discuss it?? Let's just consider it the one and only issue that the federal and provincial governments have ever gotten right. With the highest per capita immigration rate in the Western Hemisphere, Canada knows more about this than any other country in the world!!!

    1. Here is an interesting post about Migration per capita:
      International Organization for Migration


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