Ruth writes: People frequently ask me where I find the culturally-diverse events mentioned in our events calendar. Well, there’s no one complete list anywhere, especially for those of the smaller but very interesting communities we have in Toronto like Goans, Bengali Hindus, and Hakka. You should be able to get a lot of information on websites like NOW Toronto at https://nowtoronto.com/search/event/all/#, and http://events.seetorontonow.com/. But for many of the other events, you have to do some digging. There must be several thousand events each year. I have tried in the last four years to give you some indication of what is available and it hasn’t been easy; for example, Toronto’s religious institutions have some very special programs. We have almost a hundred film festivals, some of them unique to one nationality like Brazilian, Punjabi or Japanese.
So here’s how you can find events like those we’ve listed up to now. This is important for you because I won’t be mentioning them for a while any more. Here are my sources, and I must warn you, it’s taken a lot of work to find them. When you do succeed in finding events that interest you, please put the dates in your own personal calendar now so you won’t forget.
The following is for people who want to make a serious effort to keep up with what’s going on in their own city.
First of all get yourself a new email address. This is so you won’t get your personal events calendar mixed up with your regular email. Then, go to the blank above between “Contact” and “Go”. Sometimes this says “Search Keywords”. Then type in what you are interested in, like “Ukrainian” or “British Isles”, for example. The results will be out of date, but it will give you some idea of what’s available in this city – and hopefully there’ll be a website that is up to date for you to click on. Many of the events like Afrofest, the Khalsa Parade and national day celebrations are annual and are repeated each year.
Then use your new email address to get on mailing lists of event organizers. These can give you information about upcoming occasions. You may end up with a lot of spam, but you will learn about programs, like pow wows, religious events, and ethnic bridal shows you might otherwise miss.
Toronto has a very active Public Library, many museums and galleries, and places like Harbourfront that give us opportunities to experience world music, art, films, books, sports, and dances. We have programs like Doors Open where we can visit mosques, churches and temples and this year it is offering tours as well. Heritage Toronto organizes guided tours to many ethnic neighbourhoods like Chinatown, Koreatown, and St. James Town (with its large Filipino population).
Yes, many of these events are free or almost free. And yes many of their organizers have mailing lists you can join to learn about their programs. Or you can telephone them. Our universities have programs where students from around the world share their cultures. You don’t have to be a student to enjoy them. The Small Music Society performs music from abroad. The Four Seasons Centre has a series of free noon-hour concerts with a wide variety of international shows.
The Welsh and Armenian churches are among those whose members have put on superb cultural performances as well as religious rituals. We have Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh temples, mosques, and churches whose buildings and services can make you feel like you are in Laos, China, Sri Lanka, or wherever. The Tibetan-Canadian Community Centre website lists many Tibetan programs. For events expressive of Muslim culture, see websites like http://dawanet.ca/ with its links to Understanding Islam Academy, TorontoMuslims.com, and MuslimFest. To learn about and sample Halal food, there’s an annual Halal festival. To experience Muslim art, visit the Aga Khan Museum, the only Muslim art museum in North America. It’s ours too.
National groups organize outdoor festivals and/or parades annually. These include those organized by our Chinatowns, Ethiopians, First Nations (Pow Wows), Greeks, Indians, Iranians, Irish, Italians, Koreans, Portuguese, Poles, Sikhs, and Ukrainians. Among our festivals with performers from a variety of cultural backgrounds are: Afrofest, Caribbean Carnival, Carassauga, Carabram, CNE International Stage, and the CHIN Picnic.
To find what’s on, you can also try contacting consulates in Toronto about their events here. You can get on the mailing list of the Alliance Française, Mexican Consulate, Goethe Institute, Heritage Toronto, Japanese Cultural Centre, Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Monk School of Global Affairs, Native Canadian Centre, and so on. Some ethnic newspapers like “Filipinos Making Waves”, and Maureen Oleary’s Irish newsletter can tell you what’s going on in specific communities.
You can check out venues as well, especially those closest to you. For events in your neighbourhood, get on the mailing list of emails from your Toronto city councillor. Look for posters in grocery stores.
Toronto’s traffic has been so bad, it’s best to look for venues close to your home or on the subway line: Artscape Wychwood Barns, Beit Zatoun, Daniels’ Spectrum, Harbourfront Centre, Yonge-Dundas Square, Mel Lastman Square, Mississauga’s Celebration Square, Noor Cultural Centre, and Toronto’s Historical Museums like MacKenzie House and Spadina House. The ROM has been featuring some Chinese, Iranian and Polish Heritage Weekends with excellent artists.
The Intercultural Dialogue Institute has a great program that invites others to dinner in Muslim homes. It also has a noon hour lecture series with multifaith speakers and talks on subjects important to all of us. Beit Zatoun is among the best venues for Middle Eastern events.
You can find out about flag-raising ceremonies at Toronto City Hall of such countries as Colombia, Guyana, Greece, Estonia, and Ireland at http://bit.ly/1pPIv5d . I could go on and on – if I had the time.
We hope the absence of our daily calendar is temporary. My thanks to volunteers Laura Little and Kasey Keeley Weir who have helped to keep it going. I hope someone else can take the whole calendar on.
If you have a problem finding a specific website, I hope to compile a list which will be posted later. You can subscribe to our own mailing list at the top of this page for our future Blogs with a limited number of announcements and reviews of some events.
Ruth, you have done a superhero’s job with this calendar and blog. Reading this post makes me appreciate all the more your huge undertaking to stay abreast of the thousands of interesting cultural events in Toronto. Only a pity I don’t live this fascinating city. I hope someone steps up soon to provide the support to keep this wonderful initiative going.
Lots of festivals are listed on: http://www.torontoondemand.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2015-festivals.pdf