Culture as a Tool for the Integration of Arab Communities in Manitoba

Nearly 300 people gathered in front of the Precious Blood Church. A participatory dinner was offered, with dishes from nearly a dozen Arab countries, ranging from Syria to Morocco to Tunisia, via Libya.

For the former president of the Canadian Association of Arabs in Manitoba, Fayçal Zellama, this event strengthens the link between the different Arab diasporas in the province.

From the Middle East to the Maghreb countries, the Arab community in Manitoba comes from all Arab countries. There are Anglophones and Francophones, whose immigration to Manitoba is mainly economic or political, if we are talking about refugees. »

A quote from Fayçal Zellama, former president of the Canadian Association of Arabs in Manitoba

Mr. Zellama explains that this association serves as umbrella to bring together all the association representatives of the Arab diasporas of the province.

Indirectly, it is an important integration leverpoints out Mr. Zellama.

Behind every dress, a story

About fifty traditional outfits were worn by volunteers during a parade. These outfits have been exhibited at festivals on the Arab world across Canada, including in Ottawa, said parade manager Rana Abdullah.

Behind every dress, there is a story to tell. The majority of the outfits collected come from refugee camps in Syria, Palestine or elsewhere. It is a way for the younger generations not to forget their heritage and their history. »

A quote from Rana Abdullah, Parade Manager

A volunteer who took part in the parade, Noora Ahmed, originally from Sanaa, Yemen, is delighted to participate. In Winnipeg, there are not many Yemenis. So I wanted to represent my countryshe says.

A feeling shared by Mona Zangana, originally from Nablus, in Palestine. It’s so important for us to come here, our community needed usshe says.

Arab diasporas with unequal migratory movements

Each Arab country has specific traditional outfits. Here, Middle Eastern rugs and attire are displayed as the backdrop for the parade organized by the Canadian Association of Manitoba Arabs, on June 19, 2022 in Winnipeg.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Radjaa Abdelsadok

The idea of ​​this event is to strengthen ties in order to further unite the Arab communities of Manitoba over the long term, by meeting their needs, explains Mr. Zellama. In particular, this involves the construction of an Arab cultural centre.

Having a place, an Arab cultural center in Winnipeg, makes perfect sense. It is important to create this kind of landing point. It’s a way to reunite a large family that already exists in Winnipeg, Manitoba more generally. »

A quote from Fayçal Zellama, former president of the Canadian Association of Arabs in Manitoba

For former Liberal MP and candidate for mayor of Winnipeg invited to the festivities, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, the presence of these French-speaking communities helps preserve the province’s bilingualism.

The Arab and African communities are not only a cultural asset, but also an economic one for Manitoba. If they leave the province, we risk losing an opportunity to gain linguistic vitality in a province where French is respected. »

A quote from Robert-Falcon Ouellette, candidate for mayor of Winnipeg

According to Fayçal Zellama, if the Moroccan community has been well established in Manitoba for a long time, this is not the case for Algerians and Tunisians, who stay temporarily in the province, to move on to Quebec, in particular.

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