Multicultural Day for All at PCHS
by Dan Mullins
The first two sentences in Pierrefonds Community High School’s webpage, under “Welcome to PCHS!” read:
The students who attend PCHS represent many ethnic, cultural, and religious communities. As a school we take special pride in the uniqueness and diversity of the PCHS multi-cultural environment.
On April 26th, PCHS held its Multicultural Day, a celebration of the community, its diversity and the richness that it brings to the school. A festive and cheerful event that students and staff clearly enjoy, it is also colourful and visually stunning. Beautiful fabrics and clothes, jewelry, food, and the colours of many flags were on display everywhere within the large gymnasium.
“Multicultural Day is an event where students get to share their identity, and it leads to a stronger, better school,” organizers explained.
“It helps to break down misconceptions.”
There are over 55 different nations of origin at PCHS, and the event was a chance to showcase them. 18 nations and cultural groups were represented, with displays of cultural dress as well as a great deal of food. The displays offering cultural cuisine were distinguishable by the large crowds of students (and some staff) nearby.
“Come on, feed your soul,” one teacher was overheard telling a colleague.
The Scotland booth featured delicious shortbread, while students sampled namoura at the Jordanian table, lingonberry jam at the Swedish station, kolache was on offer at the Czech display, and there were many other sweet and savoury samples from countries around the world.
Cultural practices were also on display. At a table marked “Odessa,” students decorated eggs using the ancient Ukrainian technique known as pysanka, a custom that predates the Christian era, while at the Pakistan station, henna tattoos were being applied to students’ hands.
The event was held on a “Late Entry” day when students are already following a modified schedule. Invitations were extended to all students and staff, and students came to the gym for 45-minute periods one grade at a time.
Olivia Morena Leiva, a secondary 4 student, stood at a table which bore the flags of Honduras and Lebanon. She explained that her mother had come to Canada from Lebanon as an infant and later met her Honduran father at university in Montreal, while another student, Moyo Onadeko, spoke about having arrived from Nigeria when she was four years old.
“This was an excellent event. The day went extraordinarily well. I’m very pleased,” said Natalie Cheff, the Vice Principal for Cycle 2.
Multicultural Day is so central to the school that it was held even during the pandemic years, with significant precautions and social distancing. Nonetheless, the return to a more relaxed atmosphere was clearly welcome.