By Kristen Jess
Diversity and hype are two words that dominated the Ryerson Student Union’s annual CultureJam Showcase, hosted at the Elgin Winter Garden Theatre on Jan. 23, 2017.
The historic theatre was packed with a spirited crowd as Ryerson student cultural groups took to the stage, performing a variety of heritage-oriented displays including carefully choreographed dance routines, musical acts, and emotionally charged spoken word pieces, each of which paid homage to the unique experiences of the people and heritages that define the Ryerson student body.
“Our diversity is what makes Toronto as a city very unique,” said Emine Baterna, executive member
of the Filipino Canadian Association of Ryerson (FCAR). “The fact that Ryerson is located in the heart of downtown, we need a school that embraces this diversity and our uniqueness.”
This was FCAR’s first year participating in the Culturejam Showcase, and chose to perform a traditional folk dance from the Philippines, tinikling, which imitates the grace and speed of tinikling birds dodging bamboo traps from rice farmers.
“This was a chance to learn more about our culture and our history, and proudly showcase our heritage,” explained Baterna.
The focus of the event is to provide a learning experience for unique cultural groups, offering an opportunity to celebrate one another’s differences through creative performances.
“I’m not very exposed to a lot of cultures, and it’s nice to see the hype, and how involved the students are,” said one third-year graphics communication management student. “The vibe in the room is really nice.”
The audience cheered loudly and sang and danced along with the performers throughout the night. At one point, audience members joined in singing along to a rendition of the Somali national anthem.
“The performances show a lot of diversity, and it’s a learning experience,” says Eden D’Mello, a fourth-year civil engineering student out in support of the South Asian Alliance (SAA) and the Caribbean Students Association (CSA).
“You can think one way about a culture, but you can learn a lot more just from their style of dance, and it could be something completely different.”
Jeff Varghese, President of the Malayalee Association of Ryerson Students (MARS), sees the event as a chance to bring people together, and their show-stopping collaboration with the Sri Lankan Student Alliance (SLSA) was just one example of the strong sense of community surrounding the event.
“It is really important for us to show our culture and our background to the outside world, and not just keep it to ourselves. We are putting it out into the world that we are there, we believe in our culture, and we can show it to people,” said Varghese.
“You can really see the community when people cheer on the performers, teams cheering for other teams,” added Madavi Sooriyapperuma, President of SLSA. “It’s a nice coming together.”
All proceeds from the event were donated in support of the RSU Good Food Centre Food Bank.