Emad Barsoum writes: Celebrating Egyptian Heritage in Canada: The Unsung Heroes Behind the Festival’s Success and the Undesirable Insertion
Every year, the Egyptian Heritage Association in Canada hosts a vibrant festival that brings a taste of Egypt to the heart of Canada. This celebration of Egyptian culture has become a remarkable success, drawing in around 62,000 visitors over two days. However, behind the scenes, the hardworking organizers and volunteers are the driving force behind this event’s triumph, and many need to be adequately recognized and acknowledged. Still, the glory was given to some.
The Egyptian festival in Canada is a testament to the dedication of the volunteers and organizers who work tirelessly to make it a reality. From coordinating logistics to curating exhibits and performances, their efforts are nothing short of creditable. These individuals commit lengthy hours of their time, driven by their love for Egypt’s rich heritage and desire to share it with the Canadian community.
The festival offers diverse activities, including art exhibitions, traditional music and dance performances, culinary delights, and educational exhibits. It is a chance for the Egyptian community in Canada to showcase the beauty of their culture and for others to learn and appreciate Egypt’s history.
However, while the festival has seen immense success, it is not without its challenges. Some performances and shows presented at the festival were not entirely in line with the cultural heritage it seeks to celebrate. Despite efforts to keep such events secular and free from any ideological or doctrinal identity, there were instances where religious hymns, carols, or chants found their way into the festival’s program.
This issue brings to light a crucial aspect of cultural events like these. While organizers aim to provide entertainment to a broad spectrum of audiences, it is essential to maintain the authenticity and integrity of the heritage being celebrated. In this context, including religious elements might not be suitable for a cultural heritage and entertainment festival.
It is a moment for reflection and a call to revisit our narrative regarding the intersection of religion with public life, politics, entertainment, and education. In a diverse and multicultural society like Canada, separating religion from these aspects is crucial to maintaining harmony and respect among different communities.
Religion should be a deeply personal matter and not an identity or heritage. It is an individual choice and a way of life that should be practiced in religious institutions and on a personal level. The history of civilizations teaches us that progress, development, and prosperity often flourish in secular environments that value inclusivity and diversity, and above all, secularity.
The Egyptian festival organized by the Egyptian Heritage Association in Canada is living evidence of its organizers, members, and volunteers’ dedication and hard work. While it has seen tremendous success in showcasing Egyptian culture and heritage, lessons must be learned regarding maintaining the secular nature of such events. Meanwhile, it is a significant responsibility to cater over and above in the festivals for years to come.