Harambecouver, a free three-day event that will highlight authentic African and Indigenous cultures, makes its debut in Vancouver this weekend (August 25 to 27).
Billed as Canada’s first diversity and reconciliation parade, the multicultural fete features a number of speaker events, fashion shows, live music, and public art installations in and around the Downtown Eastside, an area that was once home to Hogan's Alley, a thriving hub for the city’s black population. It culminates with the Harambe Parade, a celebratory procession of various communities, multicultural groups, and allies beginning at Thornton Park.
“Harambe, in Swahili, means working together and unity,” Kayode Fatoba, co-organizer of Harambecouver, said during Saturday’s (August 19) anti-racism rally at Vancouver City Hall. (He later added that, yes, the gorilla of the same name that was shot dead at the Cincinnati Zoo last year literally “brought us together to learn such a word.”)
Harambecouver kicks off on Friday (August 25), from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., with an opening-night speaker event at SFU Harbour Centre (555 West Hastings Street), where guests can expect to hear from a group of prominent local activists and community workers such as Kombii Nanjalah, Stephen Lytton, and Diana Day.
Student-designed apparel labels like Afroditie Creative and Dr. Pearlz Clothing will also present collections during this time. The event is free, though RSVP is recommended online.
Saturday (August 26), meanwhile, will see almost 20 musicians, artists, and dance troupes gathering at Thornton Park between 10:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. for the multifaceted Culture Fest. The lineup includes the Calgary-based DJ Deemaks and the Kárà-Kátà Afrobeat Group, Canada, both of whom will stage Afrobeat performances.
Rapper Ivan Townsend, Afrojazz-pop singer Yvonne Kushe, and R&B group Soulful Child Mood will also be on deck, as well as the Louis Riel Métis Dancers and poet Daniel Khisa Wetaya. Interdisciplinary artist Melisa Hernandez P. will share a performance-art piece.
On Sunday (August 27), the finale Harambe Parade will produce a spectacle of dancers, musicians, and community groups representing nations such as Russia and Jamaica traveling through the Downtown Eastside. The parade starts at Thornton Park at 2 p.m. and wraps up at Main Street and National Avenue, where closing remarks will be made by organizers. Like opening night, these events are free of charge.
Founded as Vancouver’s African Parade in 2016, Harambecouver aims to promote a “cultural sense of belonging”. The multicultural event seeks to celebrate and bring together gentrified communities, immigrants, and tourists while shedding light on the injustices facing marginalized and minority groups and the ways in which the city’s people can come together, heal, and move forward.
For more information about Harambecouver, or to RSVP, visit the event's Facebook page.