Harambe, is a Swahili word for unity, the foundation, rootword and basis for HarambeCouver. This year Harambecouver will be evolving to HMC, which stands for Harambecouver Multicultural Carnival or interchangeably, Vancouver’s Multicultural Carnival. With Harambecouver starting to refer to the Parade component of the Carnival, this year’s programming will feature a great deal of activities; from a fashion presentation, to Culture Fest coming back for its second year of production , a soccer tournament, Conference focused on Mental Health and Addiction, A launch night for community engagement and networking as well as a Pancake breakfast for the DTES community. While these programs are funding specific, work has already commenced in lining up the various resources required to bring this production to life. As a Co-founder and Creative Producer for HMC, I’m honored to work with Kombii Nanjalah the inspiration and founder of the Pan African Carnival which inspired my decision to produce this historic platform.
We’re in a time of social enterprises and public private partnerships and thus building this type of multifaced programming is already proving that there’s a need to engage a wide range of communities to produce their own integrated programming or support with various resources. Having the year one of Harambecouver get major international attention changed the face of the event and got it promoted as Canada’s first ever Multicultural Parade with a focus on our theme of “Diversity and Reconciliation. Our goal was to develop a platform where different cultures can display their heritage proudly and collaboratively as well as preserving the identity of the Indigenous People and the People of African Descent communities in acknowledgment and promotion of the United Nations Declaration of the People of African Descent 2015 to 2014. Seeing various media companies coming on board to sponsor showed the importance of this platform. With over 1500 people attending the event within the 3 day span, the Parade that took place on the sidewalk around Horgan’s Alley as historically conceived as the Pan African Parade in 2016, became welcome allies of all age groups and backgrounds. The vision for the integration of more cultures became a notion that seemed to be part of the communities interest. This week long programming is anticipated to grow into a large scale parade celebrating not only the African Descent community, but showcase the cultural diversity that exist within Vancouver and Canada. With the support of Stephen Lytton, the First Nations Ambassador with the “Kindness Award” from the Governor General, Kayode and Kombii commissioned him as the Chair to lead the marginalized community on this reconciliation journey of connecting as Indigenous communities coming together to celebrate their subcultures with pride. With both Kayode and Kombii being Canadians, the idea of this platform is for Canadians by Canadians with Canadians that became a notion that gave it a unique birth aligned with Canada 150+ leading into the first year as the country’s new mission and commitment to promote and support it’s marginalized communities. The first year promoted Canada’s 150 with our “theme” that focused on Diversity and Reconciliation Integration. This year, our focus is on a topic that has been the most prioritized in our market research and focus groups. “The 2018 HMC conference “Theme” is Mental Health and Addiction.
Inspired by the United Nations declaration, “International Decade for People of African Descent”, the organizers saw the need to develop a tool that brought the underserved communities together, which led to the development of a more diverse country, and in doing so the stakeholders knew that it also required embracing the rich cultural heritage that exists across the Great Lakes Regions.
Filled with a range of activities ranging from Academic dialogues, networking, cultural festivities, fun and community celebration around Hogan’s Alley the place the black people developed and lived until they were displaced in 50’s, the area with rich history that should be passed on to generations to come, the programming will kickstart what is on pace to become an annual staple event in the city.
Appointment by Harambecouver as one of the first Grand Marshals of Harambecouver and to lead the allyship and reconciliation journey as the current Chair of Great Lakes Canada, a chapter of the Great Lakes Network, Steven Lytton took on the appointment with grace in 2017 as he led members of the black, indigenous, and multicultural at large community in 2017’s Multicultural Parade Celebration. With GLC dedicated to extending invitation to the Host Nations, to grow local indigenous participation in the celebration and welcoming community rejuvenation parade, year 2 will present a lot more traditional displays on the Parade Route. A Canadian residential school survivor and recipient of Canada’s Governor General Award, Steven Lytton has built a name for himself for his investment in Vancouver and the country at large. A professional actor and a community organizer by professional , Steven Lytton uses his acting experience to engage diverse communities as a bridge. As a self identified persons with disability, Steven Lytton brings an added focus on support for those unable to participate in this summer attraction due to a range of disabilities. The multicultural carnival is an evolution of the Pan African movement in 2017 by Kayode Fatoba, who had wanted to keep the African Descent Festival he had sponsored and produced for the community to stay alive. The focus on healing and reconciliation of African communities post colonization needed to be shifted to what the younger generation were feeling. To him and the youths in the room, there was unison in wanting a Canada that reflected the diversity of its citizens and embraced it’s rich indigenous culture. By recognizing that as Canadian citizens, we live on the lands belonging to generations of Indigenous communities. The transition from Pan African to ‘multicultural’ was adopted through what became a partnership and also represents the motivation to be more inclusive and to recognize the similarities shared as people that live in marginalized and minority populations. Kombii Nanjalah and Kayode Fatoba are the real drivers and spirits of this project, but what they represent are people who have suffered under the rule of colonization where their traditional history, culture, and language is being systematically extinguished much like ours but who as Canadians have a shared history in being part of the mosiac of languages that’s spoken in this country. We’re not just an English and French speaking nation. Widespread diaspora has also caused generations of people to lose touch with their families and rich cultural roots. Harambecouver 2018 will continue this spread of love and recognition that each community, each culture is their own, and each of them unique and recognized. We want to encourage indigenous groups to proudly wear their traditional attire, and offer this initiation across a diverse range of people. Harambecouver is a celebration and a communion of different ethnicities groups coming together. I believe these people will exhibit immense pride for their cultures and this vibrancy and colorfulness will be carried across so many that it will reach the hearts of all the citizens of this beautiful city.
Founded initially as the Africa Great Lakes Networking Foundation (AGL), which is currently evolving to globalized mission of empowering marginalized communities through it’s umbrella organization. Great Lakes Network, was founded by Ms. Kombii Nanjalah in the year 2008. Kombii Nanjalah officially registered as her own Non Profit Organization under the Canadian Society act on 24th May 2010. The story begins back in the 1987 before moving to Canada in 2006 from Kenya. Kombii organized different community Education, culture and sports projects for the needy women and children from both Kibera, Mathare Slums of Nairobi, working with refugees in the refugee camps in Kenya on mediation in conflict management/resolution, for those people from the “Africa Great Lakes Region” Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia among other countries. She was one of the the first woman and one of the founders of a Youth Soccer Movement in Kenya called Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in 1987, empowering young people through sports to fulfill their potential, improving their lives and other in their communities. Before she left Kenya for Canada, the movement (MYSA) had helped over 1 million street children get off drugs with the aid of soccer, arts/crafts, culture and environment to acquire employment for sustainability. She received Kenya’s “Presidents Humanitarian Award”- The President’s Award in Kenya that strives to develop and deliver quality experiential activities imparting positive life skills and ethical values to young people for a better society. An AWARD is an exciting self-development programme available to all young people countrywide equipping them with positive life skills to make a difference for themselves, their communities, country and the world. It was launched in 1966 by the Founding Father of the Nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. The Award is a member of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Association, which oversees the Award Programme for young people in over one hundred and twenty countries. His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip founded the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 1956.
Steven Lytton would move from a member of AGL into becoming an bridge for this platform.
Awarded the recognition of BC’s Top 5 Startups in Vancouver in 2016, Skynation has evolved into a rapidly growing digital production and management company supporting a great deal of projects, products, and programming across Canada. The company is supported various productions such as projects are with platforms such as Leanwords, an independent African Focused news publishing platform launched in Ottawa, or the African Entertainment Awards in Toronto, A underground hip hop platform called cxxlaid promoting Vancouver’s emerging grassroot talents. African Business Forum at UBC, or scaling University Fashion Week into UBC, SFU, and UofT. Skynation has produced portfolio which is taking mere ideas and established them into community staples. Cofounded by an AfroCanadian and International Ghanaian student studying at Simon Fraser University, the two wanted to promote and preserve their culture and heritage through the use of design and technology. The company has grown their services into the entertainment and design industry within their growing vision of becoming a full service media technology creative agency. Skynation’s goal is to create a million jobs with a focus on Rebranding Africa and Indigenous communities. Skynation is building necessary tools and systems to support the growth and integrations of marginalized communities into becoming sustainable micro economies is giving them a unique edge industrially. Skynation’s focus on growing African Descent and localized indigenous enterprises provides a unique opportunity of equipping these talented communities with amazing work opportunities that would otherwise not be available. Coupling this with the added need of promoting the UN’s International Decade of People of African Descent, the company sees Harambecouver as a great opportunity locally and globally while supporting the mission of growing the Great Lakes Network to attain this union.
Hogan’s Alley was a Vancouver, British Columbia, neighbourhood that was home to multiple immigrant communities but was known largely for its African-Canadian population. The name “Hogan’s Alley” was not official, but was the popular term for a T-shaped intersection, including Park Lane, and the nearby residences and businesses at the southwestern edge of Strathcona. Vancouver’s first archivist, J.S. Matthews, noted that this informal name was in use at least before 1914. The Black community had established itself in the area by 1923, when the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel was founded. Black settlement there was due to the neighbourhood’s proximity to the Great Northern Railway station nearby, where many of the men in the community worked as porters. Housing discrimination in other parts of Vancouver also concentrated the city’s Black population in this area.
In 1967, the City of Vancouver began leveling the western half of Hogan’s Alley in order to construct an interurban freeway, spelling the end of a distinct neighbourhood. The memorialization of Hogan’s Alley was begun in earnest in the 1990s, with increased public recognition in the early 21st century. In the early 20th century, racial segregation in Vancouver differed from that found elsewhere in the country. As a result, a concentration of immigrant groups came to live in and around Hogan’s Alley. Whereas Asian and Aboriginal peoples were subject to an exacting official segregation, other non-whites and non-Anglo immigrants experienced discrimination scaled to their smaller numbers. The conditions that contributed to the neighbourhood’s multiethnic development include housing discrimination beyond Vancouver’s East End, social and economic class, and the area’s proximity to the railway station. Many men in the Black community worked as railway porters. A 1957 city document on Strathcona notes that,The Negro population, while numerically small, is probably a large proportion of the total Negro population in Vancouver. Their choice of this area is partly its proximity to the railroads where many of them are employed, partly its cheapness and partly the fact that it is traditionally the home of many non-white groups. In an earlier planning document, social scientist Leonard Marsh acknowledged the presence of the Black community there, and the reasons for its particular location: “There is a small colony of Negro families, numerous enough to represent nearly three per cent of the total [of Strathcona’s population]. Many of them could afford to live elsewhere, but it is too obvious that they would not be welcome.
Evolved from the Pan African Carnival by Kayode Fatoba in 2017, Kayode would take on production of the platform through recommendations from Black Lives Matter Vancouver, Vancouver Moving Theatre, and CUPE who had supported the offer from Kombii Nanjalah who saw Kayode who had recently produced Vancouver’s first Urban Festival and was awarded a City Plaque for his role in the establishment of the African Descent Festival. She wanted him to support the community. Awarded a Plaque for his significant role in producing the African Descent Festival, Kayode Fatoba became the youngest Artistic Director to archive such a title. Seeing the need to limit the competition in the African market, Kayode asked to pivot the platform to suit the conversations that was pertinent to young adults. An Artist and a businessman, Kayode’s relationship with Dailyhive, Skynation, and more resources meant the project would be able to get a lot more resources. In 2017, Kayode Fatoba CoFounded Harambecouver with Kombii Nanjala and advised the establishment of Great Lakes Canada to support this vision he envisioned for people of African Descent and their allies. The idea focused on a global indigenous network. With the African Great Lakes supporting Kombii, the partnership between Kombii Nanjalah and Kayode Fatoba commenced with Skynation and AGL commencing production relationship. Kombii’s Pan African Carnival in 2016 would serve as a pilot and since there was limited assets from the production, Kayode engaged the volunteer community of AGL which led to the introduction of Steven Lytton. Steven had joined the volunteering team of AGL as a member because he always saw similarities between Indigenous Canadians and People of African Descent and the black community. Overhearing Kayode’s interest of creating a multicultural platform that placed focus on bridging the gap between the marginalized community and the mainstream through prioritizing black community, the indigenous allies and the countries diverse multicultural allies got him excited to get involved. Learning that Steven Lytton was walking his truth as a Residential School Survivor promoted Kayode to request the appointment of Steven Lytton as the Leader to lead the black community in this journey.
Kombii Nanjalah has extensive experience as a union activist, youth advocacy worker, and community organizer. She has served for 9 years as a shop steward with BCGEU Local 003, and has also served as a Member at Large on its local executive for four years. Kombii is also currently on the COPE Executive as a Member at Large. In Nairobi, Kombii organized low-income women and youth and built a youth soccer movement of over one million children, where she was awarded with the Kenya’s President youth Award. Currently, she supports mentally and physically challenged children working as a Community Health Care Worker at BACI and Strive Living Society. The Founder of Great Lakes Networking Society focusing on connecting the marginalized global indigenous communities with a focus on the Great Lakes Region, with support, services and referrals, with increased support for women and youth empowerment through education, culture, sports and music. As a COPE candidate for Vancouver School Board, her commitments was to combat racism and discrimination in schools, workplaces and in the community, ensuring every child in the public school system receives the attention they need. Through her organization Kombii works to advocate for the community through the knowledge translation gained from this platform. Her expertise, social advocacy and government background gives her the strategic management needed to communicate utilities and mandates generated from this platform to high level stakeholders.
Featured on BBC in 2018 for his contribution to the FIFA World Cup, Kayode is a growing Performance Artist and Serial Entrepreneur. Kayode is an avid investor in community development, a passion he developed at an early age which landed him $70,000 for the TD Canada Trust Community Leadership Scholarship for his grassroot work growing up in Jane and Finch, Toronto. When not back in Toronto, Kayode travels the world as an international performer. Working in Vancouver’s production community as a Torontonian has allowed him to integrate an external experiencial management focus lending from his urban Toronto knowledge of multimedia event productions. From CoFounding a number of early initiatives as a student at SFU like African Students Association, Fashion Week, serving as an SFU student senator, and as vice-president of the Simon Fraser Student Society, these platforms would serve as beneficial to create a pillar foundation upon which he’s able to build on his now modernizing connections and contemporary platforms as a rising Professional and Star. In 2015, he co-founded Skynation, a digital management and production company, which received a “Best Emerging Entrepreneur” accolade at the Small Business BC Awards in 2016. An award he credits to the production of UBC’s ABForum and producing the Vancouver’s first Urban Festival headlined by Major Lazer in 2015. His accomplishments have grown tremendously since then from scaling FW into a national platform now under Canada’s University Fashion Week to working with his stakeholders in Toronto to move the African Entertainment Awards into the Convention Center. He graduated from SFU in 2016 with a BA in Health Science, during this time he received a plaque from the City of Vancouver in his role in donating and rebuilding the foundations of the city’s African Descent Festival for the African Descent Society. As the Cofunder and Creative Producer of Harambecouver, Kayode brings a wide range of assets, resources, and connections to the table and with Harambecouver already making history as Canada’s First Multicultural Parade, we’re excited to present year two of HMC18 to the city and growing global audience.