Nfld. & Labrador

Cultural diversity of N.L. showcased for Grade 6 students

Grade 6 students from across the province have been learning about different cultures at the 17th annual Sharing Our Cultures event at The Rooms in St. John’s.

'They can actually do something hands-on,' says organizer Lloydetta Quaicoe

Kelichi Owasi and Tyreace Belnavis pose for a photo at the Nigerian Head Wraps booth at the Sharing Our Cultures event in St. John's. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Grade 6 students from across the province have been learning about different cultures at the 17th annual Sharing Our Cultures event at The Rooms in St. John's.

The event was held last week, the same week as the 50th anniversary of the United Nations declaration of March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

This year's exhibit at The Rooms was a celebration of arts around the world and featured demonstrations of artwork from youth living in Newfoundland and Labrador with roots from places like Italy, Pakistan, Congo and Tibet.

Students from as far away as Makkovik came to St. John's to observe the demonstrations of different cultures, and organizer Lloydetta Quaicoe said it was a great opportunity to expose young people to the diversity all around them.

"When they come, they get an opportunity to learn about the cultures that are presented here," she said.

"They're really excited, and a lot of them didn't realize how culturally diverse our province is."

Aboriginal groups represented

(From left to right) William Angnatok, Petter Geetah, Rebecca Sharr, Josh Casey and Liam Northcott teach visiting students about aboriginal cultures in Newfoundland and Labrador at the 17th annual Sharing Our Cultures event in St. John's. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

One of the the cultural displays was an exploration of art from four aboriginal groups in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Rebecca Sharr, the youth coordinator at the St. John's Native Friendship Centre, said it was a chance to showcase and teach other students the history behind certain aboriginal art forms.

"We speak about NunatuKavut, the Inuit and the Innu who all live in Labrador, and then the Mi'kmaq that live here in Newfoundland," she said.

"We're doing sealskin magnets to represent the NunatuKavut culture, soapstone carving to represent the Inuit, First Nations drumming to represent the Mi'kmaq and tea dolls to represent the Innu culture."

Each different piece of art had a different student behind it explaining the origin and how it was made.

Liam Northcott showcased the teal dolls, and said it was a worthwhile experience participating in the event.

"It's very empowering to be part of such a huge culture, to be able to teach so many different kids that don't know anything about it something that I myself didn't know a lot about only a year ago," said Northcott."

Annual event 

Meanwhile, Quaicoe said the event, which has been ongoing for 17 years and has been held at The Rooms for the past eight years, is important for young students.

More than 850 Grade 6 students from across the province were able to take in the event, and Quaicoe said it was a great learning experience for them.

"They can actually do something hands-on and say, 'Oh, I made a mask,' or, 'I made a Jamaican bracelet,'" she said.

"They just were excited about the opportunity to make something and to do something that they've never done before, so that was great."