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Monday, December 3, 2018

The Socials Mosaic in Manitoba

Manitoba’s Other Socials

Location of Manitoba in Canada
By Qyd (Self from GIS data) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Seasons come and go, but the fun filled activities of Manitoba pre-wedding socials tend to step up around winter time. We say it helps to chase away the winter blues, and it’s a dry winter after all. Then again, in the midst of the piercing Prairie cold comes an unpretentious influx of color and warmth from relatively new communities that are untying our traditional understandings of socials. More and more of us are embracing other types of variations to our socials with creative remixes that are now enabling infinite permutations of ethnic food, sound and music from the Philippines, India and China too. That’s because they are among the top visible immigrant groups to arrive to the Prairies. The Chinese are the most numerous visible minority group in Alberta (26.5%) and Saskatchewan (28%), whereas Filipinos continue to dominate the visible minority landscape in Manitoba (34.6%), followed by immigrants from India (22.3%) and China (6.2 %).

East and South East Asian Socials
The younger generations tend to adapt much more easily to the ways and mores of a Prairie wedding social even though it may not be well understood. No matter, newcomers outside the Prairie Provinces have trouble understanding this concept too. After all, it’s a Prairie thing! Nonetheless, we do have to be mindful of the food-related items on our menu to at least reflect, in part, the dietary restrictions and religious and cultural differences of any guests we invite.

Pupunta ako sa social. Sama ka?” I’m going to a social. Want to come?
Front View Of The Philippine Canadian Centre Of Manitoba
Photo: PCCM Website
The earliest known Filipino immigrants to Winnipeg arrived before 1950 making them the oldest known Pinoy community in the country. The Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM) serves as the new “culture broker” for all new arrivals to Winnipeg. The Centre not only provides settlement and adjustment services, it is also the location of many social and cultural activities in the Filipino community. The community has been quick to establish a number of newspapers like the Pilipino Express, the Filipino Journal, and the Ang Peryodiko. It also elected several Filipino politicians to the municipal, provincial, and federal governments. Most notable among them are Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament Rey D. Pagtakhan, Members of the Legislative Assembly Flor Marcelino and Cris Aglugub, and Winnipeg City Councillor Mike Pagtakhan.

Over 90% of the Filipinos are Christians which sits rather well with Manitoba’s 78% Christian based faiths. Like many of us, Filipinos give credence to the Pamamanhikan or “parental marriage proposal” whereby the man respectfully asks the parents of the woman for her hand in marriage. A positive response brings together the two families to celebrate the occasion in the home of the bride to be. A pre-wedding social that has all the sentiments of a hen night may also be done by some families, known as the Despedida de Soltera.

Filipino Chicken Adobo by Gibson Torreon C (Own work)  [CC BY-SA 4.0 (],
 via Wikimedia Commons
Two common Filipino social dishes are the Lechon (roasted pork dish) and chicken or pork adobo. Rice, pancit palabok (dried noodles), lumpia (spring rolls) with leche flan and maja de blanca for desert round out their food party favorites.

“Ni Hao”. (你好) Hello. Filipinos may well outnumber the Chinese in terms of population figures, but the Chinese have a far longer history of settlement in Manitoba that has earned them much respect among Canadians. However, the Chinese community in Manitoba is much less numerous in Manitoba than in the other Prairie Provinces. Most Chinese Canadians have no religious affiliation, but of those that do about 14% are Buddhist another 14% are Catholic and some 9% belonged to Protestant denominations. Confucianism and Taoism are two belief systems and practices that are deeply embedded into the Chinese culture. Filipino Catholicism is also known for some colorful cultural borrowings influenced by Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

China town bridge, Winnipeg
By Ccyyrree (Own work) [CC0],
via Wikimedia Commons
Honesty, sincerity, respect, love and strong family values are considered important building blocks to fostering personal and/or business relationships in the Chinese community. Tea drinking customs play an important social role in cementing these values. It is customary to promote these relationships by sharing a cup of tea with family members, visitors or neighbors. As such, it is consumed as a sign of respect, in some cases as a sign of regret when an apology is in order, and sometimes as a sign of gratitude. This mostly Canadian-born community has long adopted English as their first language and are well integrated in our society. The new Chinese immigrants to Manitoba still tend to speak mainly Mandarin if they are from mainland China or Cantonese if they are from Hong Kong, Macau or the Guangdong region of China..

A gongfu tea table with accessories
By Neptunati (Own work) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Newcomers tend to work in the local Chinese food industry which is popular not only among the Chinese but among Westerners too. There are over 130 Chinese restaurants in Winnipeg alone, and a handful of Chinese supermarkets (Sun Wah Supermarket, Young’s Market, Lucky Supermarket, and Daily Food Oriental Supermarket).  While Szechwan, Cantonese, Mandarin and Dim Sum style restaurants are available in Manitoba, Westerners may be more familiar with Canadian Chinese cuisine party favorites which include, but are not limited , to such inspired buffet style food snack items like crispy fried chicken fingers or wings, egg and spring rolls, sweet and sour pork or chicken, as well as pan fried pork dumplings and, of course, noodles, rice and vegetables. This cooking style was developed by Cantonese immigrants who adapted their recipes with available local ingredients to suit local tastes, and turned it into an industry of successful dine-in and take-out eateries right across Canada. More formal social occasions may tend to reflect more authentic and more expensive dishes such as abalone, jumbo shrimp, lobster, sea bass or sea cucumber, squab or shark fin.
The pre-wedding Filipino Chinese traditions mentioned here are not meant to be exhaustive. Filipinos, like the Chinese, do share some common traditions, and ways like the Kiu Hun or Kiu TsinChinese Filipino Pamamanhikan, yet beliefs, and values still differ and vary by region, culture and social status. However, like most cultural groups in the diaspora, strict courtship ritual “stages” are giving way to some Western style nuances. While parents still prefer their children to engage in face-to-face family meet and greets, newer forms of communication exchanges are coming to be accepted. Families may get to know each other in a more neutral zone such as the restaurant vs the home, and courtship interactions may now include texting, emails, face chat time and other social media.
Some important social and entertainment venues held in the Chinese community are the Dragon Boat Festival, Chinese New Year (Spring Festival), Mid- Autumn Festival, and the Chinese Cultural Festival. Throw in a live band or a DJ to the mix that is playing Western pop music sprinkled with an ethnic song here and there, and someone who wants to belt out ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” when it’s Karaoke time and you have yourself a Filipino or Chinese social! No one is hungry and the party never ends!

South Asian Socials

Pressing hands together with a smile to greet Namaste
 – a common cultural practice in India

By Saptarshi Biswas (Oberoi Employees_Rishi (23))
[CC BY 2.0 (],
 via Wikimedia Commons
Namaste/Namaskaram (Nepali. नमस्ते, Greetings).
Sat Sri Akal (Punjabiਸਤਿ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਅਕਾਲ; God is the ultimate truth).
Nomoshkar (Bangali: नमोस्कार ; bow to the divine in you).

Vanakkam (Tamil:  வணக்கம்; Hello) 
Pre-wedding socials such as the maiyaan and gaye holud festivities are joyous occasions to be sure, but the mehendi or sangeet nights are grand affairs in their own right. These pre-wedding receptions are a platform for the families to meet each other at their respective homes or at the local community banquet hall. They are very popular fun-filled traditions among North Indian and Pakistani immigrants to Manitoba, particularly among the Gujaratis and Punjabis. Songs, dances, food and stories are shared.

Mehndi (Henna) applied on both hands
By AKS.9955 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0
 via Wikimedia Commons
Mehndi or Indian and Pakistani henna designs are applied to hands and feet for women and to the back, legs and arms, and chests of men as temporary forms of skin decoration. The Gujarati Garba, Punjabis Giddha and Bhangra are some of the popular dance forms performed at these events. The main snacks for guests to nibble at these events may include hot Samosas filled with potatoes, peas, onions, or noodles and various minced meats. Chickpea filled fried pakoras with assorted fruits and vegetables as ingredients, and meat or fish combinations are eaten by Indians and Pakistanis alike. Their tastes are similar but, Pakistanis tend to consume more meats than Indians from the North and other South Asians. Northern and Eastern Indians especially enjoy eating mild or spicy bite-sized chunks of boneless butter chicken with curry, known as Chicken Makhani. They also snack on deep fried curd yogurt balls called dahi bhalla as well as sweet Ras malai dairy balls for desert. Dosa (black gram lentils and rice fillings) and Upma (a thick porridge from roasted semolina) are favored among Southern Indians, Maharashtrians and SriLankan Tamils.
All together, from the more immediate friends and family oriented pre-wedding socials to the live festive music and prizes of Diwali night socials that abound in Manitoba, you will also find those parties that resemble the typical mainstream Manitoba Social too. The socials may be hybrid in nature and Punjabi and East Indian DJs will bring their own spin on music that includes but is not limited to the Top 40, Bhangra, Indian or Hindi Pop, Bollywood songs and remixes, Hiphop, electronic House, Mashup songs and other fun remix smash-ups too. Socials are about fun, and fun is about variety, a variety of food, songs, dance, music and conversation. Enjoy!

Written by Ihor Cap, Web author and Dad.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine writes Minister of Foreign Affairs re Russia's attack on Ukraine in Azov Sea

November 26, 2018
Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister,
We are writing on a most urgent matter. Russia’s blockade of the Azov Sea and attack on Ukraine’s ships is another violation of international law requiring immediate response. We thank you for your statement “support for Ukraine and for the condemnation of Russia’s illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea” and for seeking the release of the detained Ukrainians. Regretfully, Russia is immune to words. Therefore, we ask for more; that in concert with other like-minded states Canada seeks punishment for Russia’s latest aggression commensurate with its growing and unrelenting disruption of the world order. It’s latest violation of international law and state sovereignty calls for strong, decisive measures that will be taken seriously by President Vladimir Putin rather than mocked, as has been the case with the current economic sanctions operating to date. This time, they must be strong enough to act as a deterrent rather than an encouragement for further aggression.
Today more than Ukraine’s safety is at stake. We believe that under his rule, Russia has become the most dangerous threat to peace and stability in the world. We also believe that by applying inadequate punishment for Russia’s criminal aggression since President Putin came to power, the West has encouraged the repeat criminal behaviour. We failed to deal adequately in Georgia, Crimea, Donbas, Syria and elsewhere. Now we also have Russia’s cyber warfare, fake news, interference in elections, and poisonings in Britain. President Putin is on a warpath of one form or another and must be stopped.
However, western democracies sent a strong message to the former Soviet Union when it invaded Afghanistan. It led to the collapse of a totalitarian empire that enslaved some three hundred million people. Today we must act decisively against an autocrat that is moving toward the resurrection of global Soviet totalitarianism and bringing the world to the edge of war.
To this end, we ask Canada to lead the G-20 countries in disinviting President Putin immediately from their meeting in Argentina next week. Also, that the new round of sanction against Russia exclude it from SWIFT and place President Putin on the list. To this end we support the call for similar actions made by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and others.
As always, we count on the power of suasion and the respect that Canada has among its like-minded colleagues to move swiftly and punish Russia adequately for its criminal aggression before it escalates any further. We thank you for considering our concerns and fears for the future of not only Ukraine, but Canada and democracy as we know it if Mr. Putin’s Russia is not checked and pushed back.
Warmest regards,

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
Dr. Ihor Cap
Vicki Karpiak
Myroslava Oleksiuk
Marta Onufriv
Oksana Shmigelsky

Right Honourable Justin Trudeau Helene Laverdiere,
MP Peter Boehm, DM for G7 Summit Randall Garrison,
MP Ian Shugart DM, Global Affairs Pierre Paul-Hus,
MP Stefanie Beck, ADM, Europe Middle East & Maghreb Mathew Dube,
MP Leigh Sarty, DG, European Affairs Borys Wrzesnewskyj
MP Dalia Stein, Director G7,
Operations Senator Raynell Andreychuk
Kevin Rex, Director Eastern Europe Div.
Ambassador Roman Waschuk
Adam Austen, Director of Communications,
FA  Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko
Hon. Harjit Singh Sajjan,
MP James Temerty C.M.
Hon. Ralph Goodale
MP Paul Grod, UCC
Hon. Andrew Scheer,
MP Eugene Czolij, UWC
Jagmeet Singh, Leader NDP
Ihor Mychalchyshyn,UCC
Hon. Erin O’Toole, MP
James Bezan MP

Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine
Groupe canadien pour la démocratie en Ukraine
Канадськa Група сприяння демократії в Україні
44 Belvedere Cres.
Ottawa ON K1M 2G4

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Manitoba Social: It's a Prairie thing!

The Manitoba Social

Ukrainian Socials Table
What do you get if there’s Ukrainian-style rye bread (KUB) on the tables and a spread of kubasa  sausage with other cold cuts, and hot sauerkraut or pizza (optional), some pickles and cheese cubes, and maybe some Tim bits in the equation? Well, it’s most probably a buffet table that’s being set up as a late night snack for a social in Manitoba!  More often than not, it would be a pre-wedding party that is meant to raise money for an engaged couple to help cover their upcoming wedding expenses and to a lesser extent to pay for their honeymoon or a down payment on the house. 

The bridesmaids and groomsmen to be are very important party aides for this event. They can enlist DJs and friends in the know to help plan the event, sell tickets, seek donations, and contribute cash to get some creative theme baskets going.  These baskets then make for some awesome raffle prizes and silent auction items. The couple’s parents can assume responsibility for the door and grand prizes.  Dress can be informal, and theme parties like Star Wars or those that incorporate occasions, colors or seasons are not unusual anymore.

The bar is stocked with liquor, the silent auction table is all set up and the list of prizes these days is probably longer than Santa gets! The charming couple greets everyone at the door, friends and strangers alike.  The latter group does not get invited to the upcoming wedding. The wedding is reserved for close family members and friends.  That is why the social is open to everyone.

Door prizes are seemingly more expensive at these events, and the presence of cash cubes are growing in popularity too.  As long as all ticket sales, raffle draws, and door prizes meet the social occasion raffle licensing requirements of the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba, you are good to goThe music at these socials varies with the tastes of the couple and family members. DJs will play everything from country to classic rock, or the World Latin charts right up to the top40s to keep the dance floor hopp’n after midnight.  

Wedding socials (Stag and doe parties) and zabavas (Evening Dances, Parties) are still the familiar forms of entertainment in the Prairie Provinces of Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Food choices may vary somewhat when that buffet table rolls out before midnight and may even be enhanced for more elaborate affairs. A live band and taped music is typically used at zabavas but a DJ tends to be more successful and cost efficient for socials.

All the same, these practices are quickly evolving to include any charitable event or fundraising social. So, a charity social can be held for someone who recently lost their home. Or, a fundraising event can help reduce the financial costs of someone’s life-threatening illness.

The meaning of a social has changed somewhat over the decades. It has expanded and grown to include charitable events and parties other than just a wedding social. What is more, the social is a colorful and relatively inexpensive form of entertainment when compared to club hopping which is why it probably retains much of its appeal. In the end, the return on investment may make it worthwhile to host one. Love it or hate it, it’s a Prairie thing. So, when is yours?

Written by: Ihor Cap, Web Author and Dad.

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