This weekend at Place des Arts, Montrealers can discover how much we all have in common.
The event is called Cuisine Ta Ville and it's on until Sunday — free activities including music, theatre, food and more.
Refugees — be it recent newcomers or long ago arrivals — and the Montrealers who welcome them can come together to exchange, share and learn more about each other under 10 white carports lining Sainte-Catherine Street, as the Esplanade of the Place des Arts transforms into a kind of refugee camp.
"When we are sharing food, we're sharing lives." - Moyad Almarzoki, Syrian refugee
You can join what the organizers are calling a "kitchen party" where 40 families of former refugees who've been here as long as 60 years, or more recent refugees who are from countries such as Burundi or Syria, make and serve traditional soups from their native lands while chatting with whomever walks into the tent.
"When we are sharing food, we're sharing lives, a sense of belonging, of family, of being together," said kitchen party volunteer Moyad Almarzoki.
"This is what will have a great impact, a positive impact. This is what I'm excited about."
The 32-year-old has been in Montreal for the past 14 months after fleeing mandatory military service in Syria.
Since getting to Montreal via Lebanon, Egypt and Saskatoon, Almarzoki is working hard at becoming connected to his new city. For him, Cuisine Ta Ville is a great opportunity.
"To send the message of a refugee who is already engaged in the community, this is what I love about Cuisine Ta Ville," he said.
"It sends a message of harmony, of coexistance, it sends a message that refugees are just like you and want to contribute to society."
There are a variety of other activities too, including 18 film screenings, photo exhibits and musical performances.
Cuisine Ta Ville is a public art installation by Montreal artists-activists Annie Roy and Pierre Allard of Quand L'Art Passe à l'Action.
"It's meant for everybody to connect because the project is in a historical point of view," Roy said, adding that refugees who arrived in Montreal as long ago as 1956 were invited to take part in the event.
"We want people...to connect together on this theme of refugees…to feel that in 20 or 30 years, we're always going to be a welcome territory and people will always arrive."