A Cultural Stew

Posted on November 23, 2017 under Storytelling with one comment

Karen and Jyotsna – stalwarts of Cultural Connections


“ There comes a time, when we heed a certain call,

When the world must come together as one…

We are the world, we are the children,

We are the ones that make a brighter day.”

“ We Are The World.” Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie

Antigonish is the home of Coady. Every year, for decades, Antigonish has welcomed leaders from around the world. St.F.X. University and St. Martha’s Hospital, two big engines in our economy also attract many people to our community. And we boast, unabashedly, that we are the “Highland Heart of Nova Scotia.

Do we do a good job of welcoming new people to Antigonish, whether they are foreign workers, international students, professionals or refugees?

A group of interested citizens got together 5 years ago to try and answer this question. Discussions were held with the Director of International Students at St.F.X. who knew the Newcomer Navigator for the Strait region. The idea of a potluck dinner was entertained to allow newcomers and long-time residents of the area to get together to share a meal and make new friendships. St. James United Church, one of the most welcoming places you could find, stepped up and offered their newly renovated kitchen and hall. Several societies at St.F.X volunteered personnel and expertise. The International Potluck was born. The rest, they say, is history.

Rarely in life is a new venture deemed an instant success. When nearly 140 people burst through the door at St. James, the organizing committee realized that they were on to something special.

Do you eat to live or live to eat? I suppose it depends on which part of the world you call home. Most of us take food for granted. For many it is a daily struggle. A potluck is a terrific way for people of different cultures to share their food and their stories with “locals.”

Many of the potlucks are “theme based.” The Philipinno Community has been hosts twice. Cultures such as the Acadians, Chinese, African Nova Scotians, and Celts have all left an indelible mark on the event. The L’Arche drummers are always a crowd favorite.

The organizers were slightly overwhelmed by their own success and had to reduce the number of dinners. They also realized that there was much more to this than just a meal. A wider group was convened to brainstorm with the central question, “How can we make newcomers to our area feel more welcome and supported?”

In step with a broader mandate to build a welcoming community that supports diversity, the group decided that it needed a new name to reflect this reality. Cultural Connections Antigonish now liaises with several other groups in the community including the Immigrant Support Program, Arts Health Antigonish, the Nutrition Department at St.F.X. and the Coady Institute.

If you’re a foodie and you like meeting new people, attending a Cultural Connections Antigonish potluck at St. James is a must. All are welcome. All you need to bring is some food and goodwill.

Antigonish is becoming a melting pot and we are all the richer for it.

We are the world. At least it’s beginning to feel that way.

(With thanks and gratitude to Fran Wittgens )



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One Response to A Cultural Stew

  1. Beautiful piece Len PD MacDonald

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