Fredericton’s Cultural Expressions Festival Celebrates 10 Years

Category: community 307

Under the theme ‘We Are All Ethnic’, organizers aim to honour the city’s diverse population through conversation, demonstration and celebration.

Matt Carter

Fredericton’s Cultural Expressions Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this week with four days of programming highlighting the city’s diverse cultural makeup. This year’s festival includes more than 70 performances, exhibitions, demonstrations and activities for the whole family.

“Everybody has an ethnicity,” said festival organizer Haruka Kudo, commenting on this year’s festival theme. “Our message is to be inclusive of all people regardless of their heritage or cultures or their language or religion. So after ten years we thought this would be the perfect theme for this year’s festival.”

The Cultural Expressions Festival has traditionally taken place downtown in Officer’s Square with two full days of music, dance and food. To help mark this major milestone, organizers of this year’s event have expanded beyond the two-day model adding unique, interactive opportunities for festival goers to meet and engage directly with newcomers and different ethno-cultural groups at both the Fredericton Public Library and the Fredericton Museum.

The festival begins Thursday June 21 with three events including performances and information on hand as part of the inaugural Fredericton Night Market. In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, Pokuhulakon Witsehkehsu – Sisters of the Drum will perform a free concert at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, followed by a presentation on the Grandfather Akwiten Canoe with Kim and Wayne Brooks.

Also on Thursday, the Fredericton Public Library will host also host the first of two Living Library events focused on the theme of Immigration and Integration as a way of providing an opportunity to engage one on one and learn directly from members of Fredericton’s many cultural groups.

“We have 18 living books from 15 countries,” said Kudo. “People can come and select which ‘book’ they want to read and that book will tell you a story. You can then ask questions for 20 minutes.”

On Friday the Fredericton Museum will launch Suitcase Stories, an exhibit and film exploring our connections with ‘home’.

“Most of the immigrants, when they come to Canada, they bring an object from home,” said Kudo. “It could be a photo of their families or a painting,  anything from their home. There’s always a story behind these objects. We collected several objects that will be displayed along with their stories and an image of the owner.”

An accompanying video, which will also be on display, goes behind the scenes of the exhibit exploring the objects and owners in greater detail.

As a permanent way to commemorate this year’s milestone, the festival has commissioned artists from the community to paint individual panels to create a large mural highlighting the festival’s ten years of themes. The completed work will then be displayed at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery as part of the gallery’s Family Day programming on Sunday.

“We are making a 10 panel mural and each panel showcases each year of the festival,” said Kudo. “We selected ten artists from the community to paint, using old photographs from past festivals. Each year we featured a country as a theme so those themes will be represented in each panel.”

All these events help bolster the festival’s main programming which takes place Friday and Saturday in Officer’s Square (rain location – Capital Exhibit Centre) and will featured performances from 20 different ethnocultural groups from the region including the indigenous and francophone communities.

“Reaching the ten year mark is a big achievement for us. I can’t help but feel gratitude for the community support and the many ethnocultural groups who have contributed,” said Kudo. “Without their support, this event wouldn’t be able to happen.”

The Cultural Expressions Festival runs June 22-24. More information including complete performance schedules can be found by visiting


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