Harambee, a Swahili word which translates to ‘togetherness’, ‘helping each other’ and ‘caring’ inspired the name for North America’s first ever multi-day event centered on the idea of celebrating diversity with a focus on reconciliation for people of African descent and indigenous ancestry. What does it mean to be Canadian? Harambecouver is focus on promoting a cultural sense of belonging. Historically founded as the African Parade, by Kombii Nanjalah, the need to promote the Indigenous communities that are in struggle, allies of the same mission gave the parade a lot more of a focused goal as a tool. Following the impact of Pride on sexual diversity within the Canadian advocacy for mainstream awareness, Harambecouver is focused in becoming a platform for cultural pride. 2017’s Parade launch will focus it’s efforts on the DTES(Downtown Eastside), an area that has been historic in being a hub for a thriving population of people of African Descent who had settled in Vancouver as freed slaves. As this community thrived, so did the concerted effort to break apart this momentum. In the early 1970s downtown Vancouver was the scene of a terrible episode of gentrification, where Hogan’s Alley, the first and last area in British Columbia with a significant African American concentration was demolished to make way for the construction of an highway. A conversation today that has resulted in the city admitting to it’s mistake with a focus on what the rejuvenation of this community will look like. With a positive move towards rebuilding this community, arts and entertainment have become strong tools to bring this displaced community together. While many community mobilizers have began establishing festivals, concerts, panel discussions, and community groups on landtrust conversations, business incubation opportunity, Steven Lytton, the 2016 recipient of the Canadian Government General Award wants to stitch the struggle of his immediate community as strong allies.
According to his narration and historical records, Hogans Alley and various communities around Canada had been subjected to unethical and inhumane practices as well. As one community was brought across the transatlantic as forced, free labour, another was displaced of their land, stripped of their language and subjugated to residential schools to whitewash their cultural heritage. The need to celebrate the cultural pride of marginalized communities with a focus on diversity is one that presented an opportunity to grow the parade. These two communities have faced many hardships that often precipitated being told where to go, forcibly removed from one’s ancestral home and mistreated, it’s time to shed light on the injustices that have seeped into the fertile soil of this land and come together in the spirit of Harambee to begin construction of a new road, that of reconciliation, that of social diversity and reallocation of capital that promotes an equal and equitable community. One that celebrates cultural diversity as opposed to oppressing it into extinction. From pride in our native language, our traditional clothing, dance and music, Harambecouver 2017 will be the city’s first parade focused on promoting authentic African and indigenous culture. As a new platform in the city, we recognize the need for a great deal of sub cultures to promote their own identity and welcome the support of our growing allyship communities. The focus is stepping into Canada 150 with a focus on continuing to build a better tomorrow as a great nation!
Founded as Vancouver’s emerging African Parade in 2016 by Kombii Nanjalah of African Great Lakes Network, the focus of the Parade was to bring together the marginalized communities for people of African Descent.
The event engaged various Vancouver locals to get involved. Birthed out of a need to celebrate the cultural heritage of both the gentrified community currently displaced across the city as well as welcome new coming immigrants and tourists, this mobile event would be a display of the rich cultural heritage of this community. The focus of the Parade would be to promote diversity and become a tool that can desensitise cultural heritage and promote the opportunity for sharing through an innovative educative celebration. The success of this event started conversation within ally communities who wanted to be part of this growing march thus birthing the participation of allied communities within what has now been evolved into Harambecouver!