DiverseCity Summerside Festival educates and entertains

Ancelene MacKinnon newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on July 20, 2014

From left, Noah Maynard, Celeste Maynard, Avery Nicholson, and Davis Nicholson hold up their names written in Mandarin Chinese by Buddhist monks at the DiverseCity Festival in Summerside on Saturday, July 19.


Ancelene MacKinnon/ Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE - “Buddhism is another way of life.  We’re here trying to bring harmony to the community,” said Liu, a Buddhist monk with the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society.

Liu is the president of GEBIS, a Canadian registered charitable organization that has a mission to produce monks and nuns, religious education workers, spiritual counselors, and preachers of the Buddhist faith.

They have been on the Island since 2008 and work hard to spread their peaceful message to different communities.

On Saturday, they were spreading that message in Downtown Summerside at the city’s inaugural DiverseCity Festival, hosted by the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada.

“The public will get to know there are monks on this Island, and we are willing to talk to them and answer questions,” said Liu.

Geoffrey Yang, executive secretary for GEBIS, said it was their first time being involved with the DiverseCity Festival.

“We’re really delighted to be a part of it, and we are grateful for Newcomers Association for putting on such a beautiful event,” said Yang.

He said they had people coming in groups to talk to them at their booth.

“It’s going beyond our expectations.”

Their displays featured a peace bell, which was transported from their monastery in Eastern P.E.I., musical instruments they use at the monastery, and Chinese calligraphy by Buddhist monks.

Craig Mackie, executive director of the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers, said there were more than 2,000 people at the event.

“It’s going splendidly. It’s really a terrific turnout,” said Mackie.

It’s great for Summerside to experience how P.E.I. is changing and how much more diverse it’s becoming, he added.

“What we try to do is bring people in different communities together. People are fascinated by people from other cultures.”

Mackie said they had entertainment from a couple dozen different nations, with singing and dancing, and food vendors offering everything from Indian to Asian cuisine.

“I can’t describe it as other than sheer joy on their faces.”

This event, which was part of the Summerside Lobster Festival, was the largest they’ve had because they received a grant from the P.E.I. 2014 fund, allowing them to have it in Charlottetown, Montague, and for the first time in Prince County, he added.

He said in the last five years, P.E.I. has become more diversified as their association has welcomed more than 6,000 people from over 100 countries.

“It’s changing dramatically in Charlottetown, but it’s also changing in Summerside and elsewhere on the Island.”