New digital festival aims to help multicultural groups tell stories in their own voices

By | August 15, 2020

A new online festival is celebrating different cultural communities in Manitoba and empowering them to tell their own stories in their own ways.

Ethno Fest 2020, an initiative of non-profit media platform U Multicultural, aims to bring understanding to cultural groups in the province beyond just sharing food and performances, said the organization’s founder, Taya Rtichsheva.

U Multicultural has a team of volunteers and professionals that provides people with media production training — including hosting, directing, switching and camera operating — so they have the tools they need to produce videos about their communities in their own voices, she said. Those videos are broadcast on local cable television stations across the country.

“The purpose of U Multicultural is to preserve your language, to promote your culture and speak freely,” Rtichsheva told CBC’s Weekend Morning Show host Nadia Kidwai on Saturday.

Rtichsheva was born and raised in Kazakhstan and educated as a journalist in Russia, where she produced more than 50 television and radio documentaries over about seven years. 

But when she came to Canada, she found there was a lack of Russian-language programming and a lack of understanding of different cultures.

“I’ve faced discrimination a couple times, being here in Canada, being an immigrant. And I just decided to help people who speak different languages, who have accents, to preserve their languages or even just to be proud of [the] fact that they speak different languages,” she said.

The free online festival, which launched on Saturday, aims to highlight stories and experiences of people in diverse communities with videos ranging from music performances to cooking segments to background stories.

Ethno Fest 2020 aims to celebrate different cultural communities in Manitoba. U Multicultural, the organization behind the new digital festival, helps connect people with media production skills to tell their own stories in their own languages. (Submitted by Taya Rtichsheva)

The videos are “deeper than just a presentation of dance or some songs or stories,” she said. It’s” just to give a chance for people to hear the background stories … of people who speak different languages or [come from] different diverse backgrounds, maybe to educate people a little bit about different cultures.”

The festival’s organizers plan to add more videos and stories every day until the end of September, and those segments will be available to watch online until December, she said.

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