Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An open letter to the Organizers of The Edmonton Heritage Festival

I would like to start off by congratulating you on yet another stellar event.  This festival ranks at the top of my list of things to do in Edmonton, and your continued efforts to improve upon it, year after year do not go unnoticed.  It was great to see Colombia and Brazil come out with such a bang on the first go!  As a person of mixed-heritage, I love this opportunity to celebrate diversity.  My family and I are there for all three days gorging on the sights, sounds and foods on display.  With over 80 distinct cultures participating it surely must be the largest celebration of multiculturalism in the world.  You prove that the Canadian ideal of a peaceful, multicultural society is not only possible, but is a reality.  You should be proud of what you have built.

It is precisely because I have such respect for the work that you do, that I find your silence on the recent controversy surrounding the judges for the event, perplexing.  What seemed to start out as a simple observation on the part of some attendees, spiraled into a vitriolic attack on those who noticed, those who were asked to judge and those who weighed in on the issue.  I suppose we have social media to thank for that.  But your silence on the matter served to, in my opinion, exacerbate the problem.  You left your “celebrities” high and dry to defend themselves for a decision I can only assume was made by you.  Some apologized.  Some freaked out.  And some made comments that could be seen as demeaning to visible minorities.  They should not have been put into the position to comment.  But you should.

I feel it fitting that you offer an explanation to the public outlining your selection criteria.  I would also like to know if you feel there is any merit to the controversy and if so, how you will handle it moving forward.  I feel strongly that Edmontonians from every corner are awaiting your response.

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