ttawa is Festival City: TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, Rib Fest, Carnival of Cultures, Magnetic North Theatre Festival, Italian Week Festival, Ottawa Fringe Festival, the Ottawa Dragon Boat Race Festival, Ottawa Folk Festival, Escapade Music Festival, Music and Beyond, Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival, Ottawa Lumière Festival, Greekfest, Ottawa Lebanese Festival and many more.
All of these festivals are a mirror on the diversity of our great city. With all the strife in today’s world between cultures, religions and political factions, it is really a gift to see the multiplicity of communities that decide to put on a show and invite “the neighbours.” It is at the heart of what Canada is about and I can’t think of a better place to set the example for this than Ottawa.
The other great thing about all these festivals is the amount of volunteer time and community involvement that it takes to organize them. Thousands of people commit a lot of hours to help pull these events together. And of course the third great thing about these festivals is that they are FUN. You’ll see lots of moms, pops, granddads and grandmothers, kids, couples, cousins – everyone is out and about enjoying the moment. Often, we forget about the police and other support services from the City of Ottawa who work with these groups to help pull off these events. We owe them a big thanks because, for all the challenges our city and council face, they can certainly stand tall when it comes to our festivals.
SouthAsianFest is certainly no slouch when it comes to putting on a great show. Each August, this small but vibrant community of very proud Canadians really pulls together the largest admission-free South Asian gathering in the capital.This year, on the August 15 weekend, SouthAsianFest will attract over 10,000 visitors by showcasing different kinds of performing arts from big-name acts like Imran Khan to local artists. Organizers invite anyone who attends to enjoy the music, culture and delicious variety of dishes of South Asian cuisine. SouthAsianFest is an open and inclusive weekend bash that celebrates Canada’s diversity while promoting cultural integration and harmony.
Finally, there is a story in this issue, an update really, on the Rideau Carleton Raceway and Casino issue. Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk has been a great proponent of Ottawa and has done a masterful job with the Ottawa Senators. We owe him a great deal of thanks for this and all his charity work as well. However, Mr. Melnyk has really diminished himself, his reputation and his organization with his threats to city council related to the gaming issue. His “do what I want or I am taking my ball and going home” approach has stunned many of his biggest fans in the city. He should rethink his position. The mayor and city council don’t report to Melnyk – they work for us. And Jim Watson is on the right side of this issue to convert the Rideau Carleton Raceway into a gambling casino – as he is on the right side of most issues.