A highly creative Calgarian is celebrating an important new honor: national recognition for his hard work helping diverse communities celebrate common ground together.
Lanre Ajayi has been honored by Toronto-based magazine Canadian immigrant, which has included it on their 2021 list of “Top 25 Canadian Immigrants.”
“Getting into the top 25 is huge, it’s a humbling experience,” Ajayi said.
“I am honored and blessed.”
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Ajayi is a multidisciplinary artist who has worked in many areas since arriving in Calgary from his native Nigeria in 2015.
“I paint, I do fashion, I do festivals,” Ajayi said.
Among his accomplishments is the production of the annual Ethnik Festival in Calgary.
The event showcases Afro-Canadian culture during Black History Month.
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“We are communicating our culture and uniqueness to everyone,” Ajayi said. “Because when we understand our cultural differences, we will know how to relate to each other.”
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Ajayi shared his talents Thursday as a guest instructor at a Calgary arts center.
“We work with about 300 artists each week with disabilities,” said Karly Mortimer of the National AccessArts Center. “And Lanre is an incredible advocate for them, showing them new ways of working.”
Tony French was one of the artists who worked with Ajayi on creating colorful paintings.
“I’ve never done this before. It’s really cool to know how many colors you can mix,” French said.
“It is an opportunity to inspire myself as an artist.”
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Ajayi said her work at the arts center fits well with her goal of bringing communities together.
“Create that opportunity for diversity and inclusion, so that everyone has a space and has a place and their voice is heard,” he said.
Mortimer said she couldn’t be more proud that Ajayi is honored as one of Canada’s leading immigrants.
“It’s so well deserved,” Mortimer said. “Lanre is an amazing community connector.”
Ajayi said he hopes to continue to find new ways to unite the Calgarians.
“Our diversity brings with it our uniqueness,” he said. “And it helps us to live together as one big Canadian family.”
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