Check Out the Somali Cultural Festival at Ottawa City Hall This SaturdayWritten by Chelby Daigle
The Somali Centre for Family Services in partnership with the City of Ottawa is hosting SOMFEST, the Second Annual Somali Cultural Festival on Saturday, July 28th starting at noon at Ottawa City Hall.
Somali Canadian playwright and spoken word artist Habiba Ali will be the MC.
A highlight of this year's festival is its collaboration with the Somali Museum of Minnesota. The state of Minnesota is home to the largest Somali diaspora in North America so organizers felt it would be great to highlight the work of that state's Somali community here in Ottawa as there are many parallels with the Somali communities of Ontario. Participants at this year's festival will get to visit the traveling Somali Museum of Minnesota exhibit that will help everyone to better understand the origins and achievements of North American Somali communities.
Muslim Link interviewed the organizers of this year's festival about what it is an event not to be missed.
Tell us about the Somali Centre for Family Services.
The Somali Centre for Family Services (SCFS) has been serving the Somali community in the Ottawa area since 1991. We primarily provide assistance to refugees, and to immigrants in need of settlement support and integration services. Over the years, our centre's services have expanded so we no longer just serve Somali newcomers but we offer supports to all newcomers, particularly African and Middle Eastern immigrants and refugees, through our programming. SCFS also has a youth department as well as a seniors department that both run various types of programs community-wide.
How has the Somali Centre partnered with the City of Ottawa to present SOMFEST?
The Somali Centre has collaborated with the city this year for the 2nd Annual Somali Cultural Festival to celebrate and showcase the Somali community and its culture at City Hall. With the support of the city and our community, we hope that this celebration will be a long-lasting ritual in Ottawa.
What are the highlights of this year SOMFEST?
We are happy to have Asli Dining catering this year to share some Somali cuisine with the Ottawa community free of charge!
We are also pleased to announce that the Somali Museum of Minnesota will be in attendance, with their mobile exhibit.
In addition local and neighboring cities will showcase some of their talents at this year’s first ever SOMFEST concert.
We will also have various booth from local businesses and community organization that will be selling items or sharing information with festival goers.
What are the activities are taking place for kids?
We will be having two Inflatable structures at the festival as well as many other fun activities for kids including water balloon fights, face paintings and other organized games.
Why should members of the Somali community attend?
This upcoming Saturday members of the Somali community will have the opportunity to celebrate and showcase their culture and contribution to the City of Ottawa at City Hall. It’s important for Somalis to come and be part of this celebration and to continue this festival to give the next generation of Somalis in Ottawa a day to celebrate their identity and educate the community at large about their culture and by doing so preserve it.
Why should members of the Ottawa Muslim community attend?
Somalis are one of the biggest Muslim communities in Ottawa and are strong supporters of other Muslim led initiatives. Other Muslims should attend to join in on the festivities, enjoy Somali cuisine and learn more about the culture of their Somali brothers and sisters in Islam at this year's SOMFEST.
Why should members of the Black community attend?
Somalis are one of the largest Black communities in Ottawa. We welcome and hope to see the Black community at large join us for this celebration.
Why is this a good opportunity for people who want to learn about African and Muslim communities?
This would be a great opportunity for people to learn about the African and Muslim community because the Somali community identify with both labels. We will have many elders in attendance from the community and people who are knowledgeable on the Somali culture who are excited to educate and answer any question you may have.
The festival is a very inclusive space and welcomes all members of the community to come learn about and celebrate Somali culture.
Is there anything else you will want to add?
I would just like to highlight the following:
This event is open to all of the community
There is Free food while supplies last
There is BBQ for sale
Free parking at Ottawa City Hall for festival attendees
There are Inflatables and games for the kids
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