File photo Diwali dancers pose for a photo during the event in White Rock last year.

Semiahmoo First Nation to provide venue for White Rock’s Diwali Integration event

Multicultural celebration to be staged at Semiahmoo Park Oct. 7

Semiahmoo First Nation has stepped up to provide the venue for this year’s White Rock Festival of Lights Diwali Integration event (Oct. 7).

“I am pleased to welcome the annual Diwali festival to be hosted on the the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation,” Chief Harley Chappell said in a formal statement issued through the organizing International Community Celebration Society.

“(We) welcome all visitors to our nation on Oct. 7 at Semiahmoo Park.”

ICCS president Moti Bali, noting that SFN councillor Joanne Charles is new vice-president of the organization, said the First Nation has helped the event for the last two years by providing free parking on its territory.

Now, in the fourth year of the festival, the project to rebuild Memorial Park on White Rock’s waterfront has necessitated finding a new venue, Bali said.

“Because of the reconstruction, SFN has given us the stage at Semiahmoo Park and the whole grounds of the park,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to an excellent continuing relationship with the First Nation.”

Bali added that Chappell and his children also plan to participate as performers at the festival.

Diwali originated in India as a Hindu festival of ceremonial candle lighting – a symbolic triumph of light over dark and good over evil. Over time, it has evolved into an international celebration bringing many cultures together in a desire to promote peace and foster good deeds – and since establishing the White Rock event in 2014, Bali said, the ICCS has worked hard to emphasize the multicultural nature of the event.

“This year we are expecting to have Syrian refugees as performers,” Bali said.

“We’ve had 14 to 15 different cultures represented – we’re trying to get all the cultures together in an atmosphere of respect to make a vibrant contribution to the community. We’re trying to get more music and performers and hopefully more different cultures involved.”