Edmonton

Black Santa comes to town at west Edmonton photo studio

Black Santa is coming to town, and if enough children jump on his lap, he might ride his sleigh into one of Edmonton’s biggest malls.

‘It's important for kids to have representation,’ Sharon Rusike says

A special Santa will be paying a visit to The Photographer Studio in west Edmonton as part of the Zimbabwe Cultural Society of Alberta's first "Black Santa in Edmonton" event. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC)

Black Santa is coming to town, and if enough children jump on his lap, he might ride his sleigh into one of Edmonton's biggest malls.

That's the goal, at least.

Instead of holding a Christmas party this year, the Zimbabwe Cultural Society of Alberta is hosting a holiday photo session with Santa at a photography studio in west Edmonton on Saturday.

Board member Sharon Rusike pitched the idea after noticing a lack of diversity among representatives of the jolly old elf in Edmonton.

"Most of the people in our community don't usually take pictures with Santa Claus," she told CBC News.

"It's important for kids to have representation because then they can feel included." 

Santa stopped by CBC Edmonton on Monday and told Radio Active host Adrienne Pan he was excited to be participating in the event.

"Realizing that there's no black Santa and being the first one? Ho ho ho! What a pleasure," said Santa, who is also known as Michael Moyo.

Sharon Rusike, a board member of the Zimbabwe Cultural Society of Alberta, said children benefit from seeing Santas who resemble them. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC)

Polaroid photos will be free for kids under 10 during the first hour of the event. Couple and family portraits will also be available for $30 and $50, respectively.

Proceeds from the photos will support the society's language and heritage programs.

If the one-day event is successful, organizers hope to expand it and send Santa to shopping malls and children's hospitals.

"I think it'll open up kids' imaginations," Rusike said.

The event, which is open to the public, runs Saturday from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. at The Photographer Studio, 17304 103rd Ave.

With files from Stephanie Dubois