Still Creek Community Garden shares sacred gong music from Southeast Asia
Patricia Marcoccia

Honeybees are successful because they work in unison. In the same vein, several grassroots Vancouver organizations teamed up to create a gathering of truly diverse communities at the Still Creek Community Garden last Sunday unlike any other the neighbourhood has seen.

Over 80 people gathered on Sunday to enjoy everything from a free honeybee demonstration to a community potluck and live musical performances.

Among those gathered were members of the Montagnard Community, a diverse indigenous community with about 250 members who were resettled to Vancouver as government sponsored refugees from their ancestral highland jungles of Southeast Asia – today, southeast Laos, northeast Cambodia and the central highlands of Vietnam.

Those gathered at the event could witness sacred gong music, regalia and dance performed by The Highland Gong Society – the first to share the Montagnard traditions in Canada, which are recognized by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage. Montagnard is a French colonial term meaning “mountain people.”

“It’s eye-opening to see different members of the community that you didn’t see before. You realize that the community is complex and when you invite those people you are able to do something that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” says Cinthia Pagé, project co-ordinator at Can You Dig It (CYDI), posAbilities’ community gardens initiative.

Can You Dig It's booth at the event on Sunday.

Can You Dig It’s booth at the event on Sunday.

Cinthia was especially moved  seeing so many men from the Montagnard Community gathered together on Father’s Day, knowing that less than 10 years ago they were confined in refugee camps.

The partnership of organizations including CYDI, the Still Moon Society, Eka Cooperative and the Food Security Institute enabled the event to attract people from different walks of life to share in the festivities. The gathering was also realized at a very low cost thanks to the efforts of volunteer organizers, performers and community members that shared in the community potluck.

Cinthia emphasizes that although CYDI focuses on supporting individuals with disabilities, it is also about bringing together diverse groups that are vulnerable to isolation.

“These kinds of events allow those people to become part of the community,” she says.

“There’s more to a community than what you see. It’s amazing to see what’s possible when people come together.”

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