Rare are events that include not only a community fair, a networking brunch and a panel on women and migration, but also an amateur drag show, a film screening and a bellydancing performance. But diversity is what Ethnoculture 2010 is all about; that list is just a few of the offerings lined up for what is sure to be a busy Sept 25 weekend.
Ethnoculture is a Montreal volunteer-run, non-profit organization that coordinates community-based events for and about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual/transgender and queer ethnic minorities, queers of colour and two-spirited people.
Co-organizer Ed Lee, a McGill PhD student and Vietnamese immigrant who moved to Montreal from Calgary three years ago, cheerfully admits that, these days, his volunteer gig “feels like a full-time job.”
But he doesn’t mind. “I’m excited about everything! One of the great things about Ethnoculture is that while it centres on the experiences of queer people of colour, it’s open to everybody. And it’s a free event, so it’s accessible in that way.”
Among many events to look forward to are keynote addresses by Collette Carter, co-director of the Audre Lorde Project, and Diane Labelle, who will be speaking about issues related to the two-spirited identity within indigenous communities.
“I think their experience and knowledge will be really useful for everybody here in terms of our own organizing,” says Lee.
Lee is also excited about the La Mission film screening. “It’s a feature film starring Benjamin Bratt. It went through the festival circuit last year and won a whole bunch of awards. Also, afterwards there’s going to be a youth-centred discussion in collaboration with Project 10 and the Intertribal Youth Centre of Montreal. I’m super excited about the kinds of events we’re doing where there are going to be collaborations.”
One of the things Ethnoculture aims to do, particularly with the community fair, is instigate dialogue among different community organizations.
“We really built a really diverse group this year,” says Lee. “There are groups like Helem, GLAM, Arc-en-ciel d’Afrique, who are queer, people of colour-oriented groups. But we also have groups that are maybe more queer-centred, like the ACCM. Then we have groups that are more centred around the ethnocultural or racialized community, so we have the Alfie Roberts Institute, which is a black, anglo, youth advocacy group, or also the Black Theatre Workshop and groups like that. We have a whole range of different groups, and we really hope that there will be time for the different groups to speak to each other and foster relationships. Hopefully, people will be able to think about future collaborations, whether it’s inside or outside of Ethnoculture.”
In addition to the jam-packed annual event, now in its sixth edition, Ethnoculture regularly organizes fundraisers.
“Our last fundraiser we had, for example, we gave a part of the proceeds to a refugee couple from Mexico that is seeking refugee status with their daughter,” Lee explains. “The event before that was a fundraiser for Haiti. Within a span of two weeks, we put together a performance night and raised over $1,800. It was really amazing.”
Ethnoculture 2010 takes place Sept 25 and 26 from 12-6 pm at Association Sportive et Communautaire du Centre-Sud (2093, rue de la Visitation). See ethnoculture.org for a full list of events. To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.