District Highlights

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows students celebrate culture and diversity

Two schools in the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District are celebrating culture and diversity with delicious food, traditional outfits, and student performances.

Highland Park Elementary put on their third annual World Culture Day in May, starting the day with a school-wide assembly.

“I think we can celebrate cultures every day but this… was a special showcasing of people’s specific cultures and it seems to be something that’s really important to students,” said English Language Learners (ELL) teacher Leah Kitamura, who organized the event.

“It’s important that everyone feels they are seen and appreciated,” she added, “and I think it’s important that everyone feels they belong every day.”

The assembly featured storytelling, songs and dance. Grade 7 student Roshana Q. and Grade 6 student Vanshdeep M. gave speeches about moving to Canada and what their cultures mean to them.

“I hope that people will learn and accept other people’s cultures because everyone is different and unique in their own way,” Roshana said.

“I hope that [people] learn that it means more than just fancy shmancy dresses to some people,” Vanshdeep added. “It’s way more than that.”

Grade 4 students Lucy and Emma G. performed the Romanian song Aseara Ti-Am Luat Basma by Maria Tanase.

“We get to show everybody our culture,” Lucy said.

“And we get to show what language our parents speak,” Emma added.

In the assembly, students and teachers also formed a long line and shared how they say thank you in their different languages. There was a bhangra dance and a sing along of My Ancestors, written by Lilly Teare Cunningham and her sisters, and gifted to the school. Students also did a read aloud of The Lost Dumpling by Kirstin Hepburn, which includes characters representing different cultures.

“I feel very proud of the students for summoning the courage to be leaders and to share their talents with everyone,” Kitamura said. “It takes a lot of courage and I really appreciate their bravery.”

Students who took part in Highland Park Elementary's World Culture Day assembly pose for a group photo in the gymnasium.

Meanwhile, Garibaldi Secondary students held their own Culture Day, featuring vibrant outfits, a bake sale, and lunch specials with food from around the world.

“The goal is to celebrate diversity, promote cultural understanding, and foster a sense of unity among students,” explained Grade 11 student Mannat Bains. “Organizing such an event provides an opportunity for students to showcase their heritage, traditions, and customs.”

Bains is part of Garibaldi’s Student Voices for Equity group and one of the organizers of the event.

“I think it went well and everyone learned something new,” she said.

Students and teachers dressed up in traditional clothing and enjoyed food from the Philippines, Iceland, India, Holland, England, and more. The cafeteria also featured special menus all week with food from India, Mexico and Egypt.

“I hope other students learned the importance of being proud of your ethnicity and background,” said Tisha Chand, who is in Grade 11.

“It’s a community coming together,” added Bains.

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