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Celebrating unity in diversity

Rankin Inlet high school holds family and cultural night
Elisapi Pissuk, right, is served a plate of food. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

Many people seem to think Africa is a country, when it’s actually a whole continent, said Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik principal Olusoga Tomoloju.

“People always ask about Africa,” he laughed during a family and cultural night at his Rankin Inlet high school Thursday, March 9.

Tomoloju explained that he is from the western part of Nigeria, known as Yoruba, and he was dressed in traditional clothing from his culture.

The event was a first for the school and featured Inuit drum dancing, workshops for making one’s own drums, a fashion show complete with a smoke machine, food from various cultures and Inuit games.

“Rankin is growing,” said Tomoloju. “There’s what we call unity in diversity. Sometimes we don’t know that we have different cultures here, because everybody just goes to work and comes back.”

That got him thinking about how to bring the community together to demonstrate its diversity, which led to the cultural and family night.

“That’s where this initiative comes from,” said Tomoloju. “We call it family and cultural day. Come and display your culture and let somebody ask you about your culture.”

Riley Kent, 13, is a student at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik and traces some of her family history back to China. She was dressed in a Han Chinese outfit, which she showed off while walking the runway in the fashion show. The Han Chinese are an East Asian ethnic group native to China and the largest ethnic group in the world, making up about 18 per cent of the global population.

“My mom’s half-Chinese,” said Kent when asked about her background, explaining that her outfit is mainly worn on special occasions.

Tomoloju was glad to see the turnout and said he hopes the event becomes a regular one and continues to grow.

“Let’s get to know our culture, let’s appreciate the uniqueness and let’s celebrate one another,” he said.

Leah Gibbons performs a drum dance routine to start the evening. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Olusoga Tomoloju displays some traditional clothing from his home in the western part of Nigeria. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Riley Kent wears Han Chinese cultural attire. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Valentine Madjo Tatchuinwa shows off a beautiful traditional outfit on the runway. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Sira Niang looks out at the community gathered for the cultural evening. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo