There’s a couple of big and bright new events coming to this year’s Lacombe’s Days from the Africa Caribbean Heritage Alliance (ACHA). The organization is looking forward to bringing African and Caribbean culture, food, fashion, dance and more to the City.
“We are from the African Caribbean Heritage Alliance and our organization is established internationally to really encourage participation of people of African descent, Diasporans, and Caribbean people to engage in what is happening within their communities,” explained Okama Ekpe Brook, Founder and President of the Africa Caribbean Heritage Alliance and Vice President of the Caribbean Studies Association.
The organization will be hosting three events over the course of Lacombe Days including their Arts and Crafts Market, A Taste of Africa Dinner, and Music, Dance, and Fashion at Cranna Lake.
Arts and Crafts Market- Friday, July 15, 12PM-4PM at Lacombe Memorial Centre's County Room
On Friday (July 15), you can take in African and Caribbean culture through the Arts and Crafts Market at the Lacombe Memorial Centre’s County Room from 12:00PM-4:00PM. All of the arts, crafts, and fashion which will be handmade.
“They're all hand-made by local businesses in Nigeria. There's a women group that my project supports in Nigeria, and this stuff is made by them. We've also got some connections from Egypt and from an association in St. Albert that has provided some of the things that have made it from Nigeria and from Canada. That’s what we're showcasing on the fashion runway and they'll be available for purchase. All we're doing is empowering both local businesses, and because we're a charity, the proceeds from that goes to supporting the women and youth that are involved in our program,” explained Ekpe Brook.
Empowering youth and women
One of the projects that the ACHA is working on is their voice initiatives which provides youth access to training to empower them hone their talents even further.
“We go to communities we identify young talents and then we train them. If it's music they're interested in, how to produce it properly and get a producer. Then help them perform it and basically take the music from an elementary level to a professional level where it becomes like an income generating tool for them or for dancers. We had young people that are really talented, trained them and then we featured them in programs where they become performing artists and they can help themselves that way,” explained Ekpe Brooke.
Ekpe Brook said they have also trained young women to be models in the African Fashion for Peace Program which empowered over 1,000 young women and Indigenous people.
Locally, Ekpe Brook is looking forward to diversifying the community alongside organizations such as Lacombe’s Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Lacombe Rotary Club to ensure that the Black and Indigenous communities are included.
A Taste of Africa Dinner and Entertainment- Friday, July 15, 6-8:30PM at Lacombe Memorial Centre's Centennial Hall
Friday evening, you can take in African Caribbean dancing food, and fashion at the Taste of Africa dinner at the Lacombe Memorial Centre from 6:00PM to 8:30PM. Along with exciting traditional African and Caribbean entertainment, fashion shows, dances, and drumming Ekpe Brook says you can expect delicious locally made food.
“You'll probably see on TV and on the Internet some of the colourful dances and clothing and artwork and tastes. We're going to have Egyptian recipes on the menu for Friday night. We're going to have Nigerian jollof rice. That's one of the most delicious dishes we have across West Africa. We're going to be serving you Nigerian jollof rice with moi-moi acara. We're going to have trade from Jamaica, a jerk chicken with sorrel juice all freshly made by local producers,” said Ekpe Brook.
The dinner will cost a $25 donation to the ACHA. People are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets on Eventbrite here but tickets will also be available at the door.
Performances at Cranna Lake- Saturday, July 16, 6-9:30PM
On Saturday night, the ACHA will be at Cranna Lake for a colourful performance with steel drums, dancing and fashion from 6:00PM to 8:00PM which will be free to attend.
Okama Ekpe Brook is looking forward to bringing some of the most colourful, loud, and delicious events to Lacombe Days this year. Although the ACHA has been an international organization for many years, this will be the first time they’ve done programming in Lacombe.
Ekpe Brook says the organizations is looking for more volunteers and locals to be apart of their programming. You can learn more about ACHA here.