30 Countries, three days, one city

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The First Nations pavilion lights up the event with its colourful dances /Apolline Lucyk

The First Nations pavilion lights up the event with its colourful dances /Apolline Lucyk

Regina’s festival of cultures brings the city to life

Article: Robyn Tocker – A&C Editor

When people think of Canada, the word “mosaic” is often the first thing that comes to mind. The country is diverse and Canada’s celebration of its cultural differences trickles down through urban centers, especially Regina. For 46 years, the city of Regina has hosted its Mosaic festival.

The way the festival works is simple. Pavilions representing 30 different countries are set up across the city, from the First Nations University to out by the airport and downtown. Thanks to free transit, in a matter of minutes a person can go from being in the heart of Germany to dining on Chilean delicacies. Although, if a person would rather walk to the next pavilion, there’s no problem in that either, since most of the pavilions are bunched together, depending on which route you’re taking.

Mosaic isn’t just for the youth who want to party it up in a different country. Many pavilions, especially early on, are child-friendly environments. This helps expand the younger generation’s expectations about a different culture and fosters education in all age groups. Although, to be fair, Mosaic is also a great excuse to hit the town with a group of friends to party.

“The alcohol is my favourite part,” said one of the owners of Fairy’s Glen jewelry booth at the Scottish pavilion. “Mosaic opens up our expectations we have about a certain culture and their history. It makes the non-relatable parts of a culture more understandable and makes us look past the surface of a person.”

Mosaic is also a way to remind people that every culture is a part of Canada. It is a great tool to help people embrace their roots and feel at home in a place that would normally seem foreign to them.

“It’s a time to ask questions and educate with our eyes,” said one of the patrons at the First Nations pavilion. Eating the food, he said, is also a form of education, and an especially tasty one at that! “Mosaic is education at its finest. The more pavilions you visit, the more educated you’ll be.”

The variety of pavilions available at Mosaic shows Canada’s, especially Regina’s, uniqueness. It helps visitors to “enjoy and learn about other cultures through entertainment and food,” said Washington Celis, an ambassador for the Chilean pavilion.

Speaking of food, there’s always something at every pavilion to make people start salivating. The Scottish has a Highland dinner on their menu, consisting of haggis, neeps, a bun, sausage roll, and a scotch egg. Butter tarts for dessert with a side of beer? How could anyone refuse such an offer?

If you’re looking for something meatier, there’s always a bannock burger or Indian taco at the First Nations pavilion. Roast pork on a bun or a Bratwurst dinner (comes with potato salad and sauerkraut) at the German pavilion make for a filling meal too.

Although Italian food is already enjoyed on a weekly basis for some people, as the Italian pavilion says: “Italian hospitality will bring you here … the great food and wonderful entertainment will keep you coming back!” Main courses like spaghetti and meatballs always make for a tasty meal, but the rosticini (Italian style shish-ka-bob) is a treat worth trying.

Once you’ve had your fill of the main course, dessert might not be on the list, but it really should be, especially if you’re at the Chilean pavilion. Churros, chilenitos (pastry filled with caramel), roscas (mini donuts), and brazode reina (jelly roll cake filled with caramel) could take care of that sweet tooth easily.

But Mosiac isn’t all about the food. The performers also keep people coming back every year. With singers like Annette Campagne and Mario Lepage with his partner Shawn Jobin at the Francophone pavilion, the fun really starts and the drinks keep pouring. The Germans keep toes tapping with their choir and a singer Devyn Nuefeld. The Caribbean pavilion is never short on entertainment, especially with their limbo dancers, fire-eaters, and entertainer Prince Niah. Although the Korean pavilion has only been in Mosaic for three years, their Tae-Kwon-Doe demonstrations combined with new and old traditional music keeps people coming back.

If you’re someone who isn’t much for trying new foods and you can’t understand what people are saying as they sing in Austrian, there’s always something to buy at a pavilion. From a German stein to a Chilean hat, clothing from the Philippines, a pair of moccasins from the First Nations, or a set of Celtic earrings at the Scottish pavilion, there’s never a reason for you to come home with more money then you left with.

Yet, like all events, Mosaic isn’t perfect. Kinks pop up and we’re sometimes too drunk to notice them, but it can affect how we enjoy Mosaic. For the people who run their booths during Mosaic, it can sometimes be a letdown not to be able to see the other pavilions.

“I’d like to see a second festival held during the year,” said a patron of the Scottish pavilion. Another reason to get your friends together and have a good time? Bring it on!

“The busses should run later,” suggested a patron of the Francophone pavilion. After Thursday’s onslaught of rain, the idea sounds appealing.

“There should be more interactive games to encourage people to go to as many pavilions as possible,” said one of the coordinators from the First Nation’s pavilion. “It would also be a good idea to have a symbol in the passports beside each pavilion that is kid friendly/alcohol-free.”

“I would like to have more Oriental pavilions, like Japan or Thailand,” said Celis.

Unfortunately, this year’s Mosaic has already come and gone, but keep in mind that next year it will be back for a 47th round. Don’t miss out on the alcohol, food, dancing, and general celebration of the mosaic that is Regina, Saskatchewan.

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