Multiculturalism shows us more similarities than differences: Folklorama director

It’s Canadian Multiculturalism Day, and if any city knows a thing or two about multiculturalism, it’s Winnipeg — home to the world’s largest and longest-running festival devoted to the subject.

Folklorama heads into its 53rd season this August — a longevity record that would have actually been 55 years if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. Executive director Teresa Cotroneo says the more you learn about different cultures, the more you learn we’re all the same.

“We may have a different beat to our drum or a little bit of different ingredients in one dish or the other,” Controneo told 680 CJOB’s Connecting Winnipeg, “but there are so many commonalities amongst the cultures across the world, that it really just brings people closer together.

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“We look at culture as distinct, but we are part of each other’s cultures every day in so many ways. Just going to get a cappuccino in the morning — you don’t think of yourself as Italian when doing that, you just think of it as the coffee that you love.”

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Sharing cultural food and drink, of course, is a big part of the experience at Folklorama’s pavilions each year, and Controneo said that’s in part because food is a great entry point to learning about the different ways people live around the world.

“For some people, that’s just the introduction,” she said.

“Some people who have not perhaps had a lot of proximity to individuals or communities who they don’t see as ‘similar’ may not be sure where to start, so exploring a pavilion, exploring different cultures, and actually having an immersive experience really awakens people.”

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This year, that immersive experience has grown to include even more regions of the world, with the addition of two new pavilions and the return of some fan favourites that had been dormant since the pandemic.

From Aug. 4-17, Folklorama will highlight 38 different cultures, including — for the first time — a Ghana pavilion, as well as a Latin American pavilion, which will focus on countries and cultures in Latin America that haven’t previously been represented, while the popular Korea and Chile Lindo pavilions make their return.

Click to play video: 'More than just two weeks of fun: Folklorama celebrates culture year round'

More than just two weeks of fun: Folklorama celebrates culture year round

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