Enjoying the tastes and sounds of Bradford

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

Fatima Pereira, who brought a traditional dish from Portugal, samples Syrian and Iraqi food at the Tastes & Sounds of Bradford, September 23, 2017. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

Fatima Pereira, who brought a traditional dish from Portugal, samples Syrian and Iraqi food at the Tastes & Sounds of Bradford, September 23, 2017. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

There is nothing more basic than breaking bread together – nothing that unites people more than sharing a meal. Shared food is at the heart of every festival and gathering, and shared food was a metaphor for shared culture, at The Tastes and Sounds of Bradford, Saturday night at the Bradford Arts Centre.

“The impetus for this gathering tonight was my own history,” said Rev. Jim Keenan: in Vaughan, cultural tensions were eased by hosting a community dinner, that brought people together in a social setting. “It's different when you meet people,” Keenan said, “and I think it's important.”

At least 11 cultural groups were represented at the event, including Portugal, Jamaica, Syria, Iraq, Mexico, Nigerian and the Philippines. They shared food and cultural traditions, then listened to guest speakers and watched cultural performances on the Bradford Arts Centre stage.

“It was fantastic,” said Deputy Mayor James Leduc, who attended part of the evening. “It's wonderful to see so many cultures come together tonight.”

The Chippewas of Georgina were unable to attend, but Chief Donna Big Canoe sent a welcome, to all “gathering in a peaceful way. Any gathering with food can create many great discussions, and a willingness to listen to one another while sharing a feast in each other's company. We wish tonight accomplishes the understanding that needs to happen with one another.”

The guests also heard from speaker Nestor Medina, talking about the colonial roots of racism in Canada, and from Councillor Raj Sandhu, chair of the BWG Diversity Committee.

“This is what building a community is,” said Sandhu. “I think we have to build a society where everyone can come together and ask questions. That's how you bring communities together; we embrace each other, and we welcome each other.

“If we spread this around, we can make this a peaceful society.”