Five nights, 200+ guests each evening and five ethnic groups celebrated during the week of February 5 - 9 at Culturama 2024 at the Pat Porter Active Living Centre in Steinbach.

This year the Pat Porter teamed up with Eastman Immigrant Services, collaborating resources, staff and volunteers to present local culture in unique and personal ways.

Audrey Harder, Executive Director of the Pat Porter shares her highlights of the week.

“Every evening was a highlight for sure. There's some specific, yeah, Mexican night was absolutely amazing! To have the professional dancers come all the way from Mexico. I mean, who would have thought we just lucked out, and they didn't charge a thing? They wanted to come here and just entertain and show people, their culture and share it, and they loved it.”

Harder says she enjoyed watching strangers become friends during Culturama.

“I had a story from somebody who talked about how they sat with the same couple from Ukraine, and they're just people who have lived in Steinbach all their lives, and they get to sit together, and they learned about each other. And the connections that have been built, which is what we always want to see in these events. It's not just about learning, it's about getting to know your neighbors.”

Harder shares a moving moment during Filipino night.

“We all sang O Canada, and then we did the national anthem for the Philippines, and I was standing there with my hand over my heart and watching an entire room of people be so respectful for another country, and to hear them say how standing at the front gave them goosebumps, like from the back it gave me goosebumps too.”

Harder says the week was enjoyed by most guests. “I think the success was way beyond what we could have expected. That's what I've been saying all week is like, how did we do this? You know, just to see the growth from last year to this year, and what we've learned from both experiences, and how amazing it's been to be able to taste the food, and to experience the whole culture, not just be giving little bits and pieces, and go home.”

“It's been about actually experiencing it and meeting people who live that way.”

When asked if Eastman Immigrant Services and the Pat Porter would be organizing Culturama 2025, there was no hesitation for Harder.

“Oh, absolutely there will be. We're already planning it. We have our nights sorted, and we have people calling us who are interested in being the feature culture. So, if there's anybody out there, please do give us a shout. We're working together again for next year. absolutely. We don't want to change connection, because we’ve kind of become a family, the two organizations. And we've spent so much time together celebrating that we don't want it to end in some ways, in other ways we're tired.”

“But you know, we don't want it to end because we've made those connections. So, we're looking forward to continuing for next year.”

Harder says, everyone who attended Culturama would have left with a little more knowledge about that ethnic group, and more connection to the neighbor, than when they arrived.

“And I think that’s what it’s all about that. The moments where we can connect with each other so, stronger communities come out of all these experiences. This is what we need.”

Ritu Kumar Eastman Immigrant Services and Carla Walker Pat Porter Ritu Kumar of Eastman Immigrant Services, and Carla Walker from the Pat Porter Active Living Centre collaborated to bring Culturama 2024

Culturama 2024 was organized by Carla Walker from the Pat Porter and Ritu Kumar from Eastman Immigrant Services, along with staff and volunteers from both organizations.

Below is a gallery of photos from the final night of Culturama on Friday, highlighting India.