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YYCultured APRIL 2019










YYCultured YYCultured is Calgary’s only source that connects diversity and spreads awareness about the cultural minorities and their traditions. With a beautiful mix of colourful imagery and meaningful stories, YYCultured is for the readers that want to experience the wonders of the world right at their doorstep. C REATOR & P UBLISHER KAJOL BHATIA










S UBSCRIPTION : Yearly - $45 Quaterly - $15 Kween B Media 123-007 St NW Calgary, AB T2M 4L1

2 @yycultured

eDiTor’s noTe My main purpose in creating this magazine was to highlight the growing diversity in Canada. There are so many immigrant families that have move here and even though they are small communities, they have a lot of influence in the future of Canada and its changing dynamics. Many do not realize the hardships these people face when they move to an unknown country amongst strangers, trying to create their own indentity all over again. With YYCultured, our mission has always been to shine the spotlight on these hardworking individuals while also introducing them to events and places that may remind them of home. It’s hard to know how to always produce content for an all-inclusive magazine when the demographics of the term “inclusivity” itself is ever-evolving in this new age. Each monthly issue of YYCultured has been actively following

cultural communities in Calgary to help bring awareness to their customs and traditions. We all could use a little understanding and respect for our neighbours, especially since they adapt to our customs. We wouldn’t be Canadians if we don’t invite them into a welcoming environment. So, jump right into this April issue, to travel through the bright colours of India, to the tunes of France or the learn about the tribes of Africa. YYCultured has a little something for everyone! Thank you to our readers for accepting us into your homes. Sincerely, Kajol Bhatia Editor-in-chief




#SHARING STORIES THE ELECTIC ONE Chinese actor and performer hopes to bring mixed youths into the stage’s spotlight


#EATING OUT JERUSALEM SHAWARMA Best restaurant in Calgary for Lebanese food


FESTIVAL OF COLOURS University students celebrate Indian festival at their home away from home


#DIYDISHES POTATO PEAS PUFF Savoury vegetarian dish popular amongst Indians for their tea time snacks


MUSICAL DUO Mother-son turn to entertainment at events for joy


BELLY ON THE BEAT Introduction to the art of bellydancing and information on classes in Calgary



THE FRENCH HAVE MUSES Story on the artists performing at the Franco Festival Calgary THE AFRICA SHOW New discoveries at the African Hunting Expo exhibition



6 24 Abhinav Goyal on the cover seen enjoying the celebrations of the Indian festival, Holi in Calgary. 3




ecLecTi c ONE

By Kajol Bhatia

An actor from Calgary hopes to inspire generations of Chinese youth to step into the spotlight after falling in love with theater and performing arts. Kiana Woo, 24 years old, is a fresh graduate from the University of Alberta’s Bachelor in Fine Arts in the Acting program. She calls herself an actor, performer and creator. Her family is originally from China, but is herself born in Richardson, Texas and soon after, moved to Calgary with her family


Woo specializes in street plays but loves to work in all styles.

and brother, where she was raised and has lived since then. Woo is currently employed at the Jubilee Auditorium as a part-time Front of House staff and works on creative projects on contractual basis. “It really depends on the time of the year,” said Woo, talking about her ever-changing and hectic work schedule. Woo has been a contributing member in multiple plays and organizations. Her work as an actor for University of Alberta’s studio theater has been positively critiqued and pictures have been published on the university website. “I’m primarily trained as an actor in street plays but I do a little of everything,” explained Woo, about the different styles of plays she has been in. She works as an expert in every field from musicals, to theater, to spoofs. As an advice to those who want to pursue acting, Woo said, “Just do it!” “It never gets easier. You always have to be working.” Her motivation to strike gold as an actor comes from a drama camp she attended, when she was younger. She discovered her talents of the creative and performing arts at this camp. Soon after that, it was

just a roller coaster ride to refine her skills and work to achieve the qualifications needed to succeed in her career. “The best advice I ever got is to be resilient,” declared the young and upcoming actor. She hopes to bring more representation of the Chinese culture and more actors to change the face of cinema and performing arts. As a young actor, she realized that there was a lack of performers who looked exactly like her on stage. This pushed her to find a way to use the stage to do what she loves but also highlight the need for diversity in the industry.

“I want to find a way to make all stories accessible,” said Woo. Creativity and passion run high in the family. Woo’s younger brother, Lincoln Hotchen, has worked hard to achieve his goals as a musician and audio engineer. “My sister is one of the most talented women I know,” said Hotchen, who regularly plays for concerts in the Calgary music scene with some of the best bands from the city. “She’s only motivated to make it bigger.”




SHAWARMA By Kajol Bhatia Suzi Awada and Heidi Sinclair, dayhome providers and partners, are regular customers of Jerusalem Shawarma’s West Springs location because of their love of Lebanese food. “I’m Lebanese/Canadian and it’s so nice to have something close to home when I don’t have time to make it,” said Awada, about her ancestral roots. Awada introduced her girlfriend and “partner in childcare”, Sinclair, to a new variety of flavours. “She has opened my eyes to a whole new love for food, the process of cooking and all the different flavours,” expresses Sinclair fondly. “I usually have a fairly boring pallet. My family is mainly Irish with a sprinkle of Scandinavian.” The couple, along with Awada’s children, enjoy the family platter and have found it easier to order ahead of time to bring it back home. “I’ve heard so many great things from friends and neighbours about Jerusalem Shawarma. [I’m] happy to see how much they have expanded,” declares Awada. They love to share food from Jerusalem Shawarma with all their clients too, by using the catering services offered by the franchise. Jerusalem Shawarma catered for approximately 110 people at a giant dayhome/end of the school party and everyone loved the food. “They were professional when we met to discuss the menu, and above and beyond my expectations at delivery,” claims Awada. While Lebanese food is popularly known for their savoury meat options, the franchise also provides vegetarian/vegan options to eat in or take out. The food is rich in flavour and always served fresh, with their restuarant’s kitchen set up similar to Subway. “Try everything,” said Sinclair as an advice to fellow meat-heads, since Awada always opts for the vegetarian options.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. They are super friendly and informative.” Though Awada was born and raised in Canada, her parents were responsible for feeding her traditional foods. “I love the multicultural aspect of what Calgary has to offer,” said Awada. Must try: Chicken or Falefel Platters, Kebabs, Beef Skewers, Hummus, Shawarmas and Samosas.

Cleanliness: Timeliness: Customer Service: *Ratings provided by the interviewees.




The spring festival of Holi is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil. It is one of the oldest Hindu festivals but is enjoyed and highly awaited by all Indians. Through its origin predominantly in Indian sub-continent, the festivities have now been widely spread across Asia and parts of the Western world, where there is a huge population of Asians. 6

By Kajol Bhatia Student clubs from Southern Institute of Technology (SAIT) and University of Calgary (UCalgary) collaborated for the first time in years to celebrate the Indian festival, Holi, at the UCalgary campus on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The event was attended by over 150 people and covered by multiple news outlets. The Indian Student Association (ISA) from UCalgary and South Asian Students’ Society (SASS) from SAIT were responsible for gathering students and Calgarians on a warm afternoon to celebrate the festival of colours together. “The collaboration went very well, as it lowered the workload on each of the clubs, and gave both institutions an opportunity to celebrate. The turnout was one of the biggest we have had in the last few years,” said Jaskaran Purba, a third year Biological Sciences student at UCalgary and co-vice president of

ISA for their on-campus events. “We are here for enhancing the student life experience, and that’s exactly what this collaboration achieved.” “My favorite part was seeing everyone show their desi Bollywood dance moves,” declared Purba, who was also DJ-ing at the event for the first time. A lot of non-South Asians were also seen participating and enjoying at the event. “It was heart-warming to see various cultures come together and celebrate,” explained Purba. “Holi brings people of different skin colours, faiths, and ethnicities together and signifies that we’re made of the same colours from within.” ISA has been fortunate to get the necessary support and appreciation from the university as a cultural club for the last 51 years. Their events have been catering a huge audience of the Indian sub-continent that have settled in

Holi has been popurlarly known as the “Festival of Love” amongst many couples that celebrate together.

Karman Bath, a student from University of Calgary, attended the event with her friends. Canada or chosen to come study here as an international student. “This year would be our fourth year in a row winning a club award for student life by the Student Union at UCalgary,” said Dona Mehta, who is completing her Bachelor’s of Science in Biochemistry (BCHEM) at UCalgary. She moved with her family to Canada ten years ago but continued to follow traditions from back home. Mehta quickly progressed ahead and became the vice president of internal affairs of ISA, in her first year as an executive. “A lot of people that are either born here but still have Indian heritage. Also, people that belong to different cultural backgrounds are inquisitive and want to know more about our culture,” expresses Mehta, about the importance of having cultural clubs in universities. “It gets tough to explain everything to them but for the most part it is easy and fun as you get to spread


Colourful faces of the participants at the end of the event. The ‘rangoli’ colours are non-toxic and safe for use.


knowledge about your traditions and culture.” With the aim of bringing together students, mainly from the South Asian diaspora, Abhinav Goyal, second year Film and Video Production student from SAIT, along with his compatriot, Diksha Thakur, started the South Asian Students’ Society (SASS) student club at SAIT in Fall 2017. “I saw that there were very many students from that region, but no club to gel them together that’s when I decided to start my own club,” said Abhinav Goyal, President of SASS club. “I wanted to build a community where they feel like home, celebrate festivals and other homely events.” SASS is fairly a new introduction to the mix of SAIT’s Student Asso-

ciation (SAITSA) student clubs, being only in its second year. It is one of the only three cultural clubs. “They have always our club to do

“I wanted to build a community where they feel like home, celebrate festivals and other homely events,” said Abhinav Goyal. more and more activities and events throughout the year. [Their] support financially has also been phenomenal,” explained Goyal. “We were able to get the funding, or re-imbursement for it pretty conveniently.” With the growth of diverse pop-

ulation of minorities and people from all parts of the world slowly moving to Calgary or Canada, universities and colleges have started supporting more cultural clubs and activities on campus. Their encouragement has brought recognition to traditions of different cultures and a sense of belonging amongst all individuals. “The event of Holi is very popular around the world outside of India, especially in North America. People who were non-Indians were actually really intrigued and interested in the event,” claimed Goyal. “I used to play Holi back in India, with my family and friends. This used to be a routine every year and are the most memorable days I had.”




SAVOURY PUFF Sejal Jani Joshi, a food blogger and caterer running her business from home, shared one of her favourite vegetarian recipes that can also be made in a nonvegetarian version.


“It’s a very easy dish to make plus it tastes so good and works perfectly for breakfast paired with tea or coffee,” said Joshi, about her potatoes peas savoury puff recipe.

1. Add salt, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, black pepper powder and garam masala powder.

Cooking time: 20-25 min Storage life: Up to 2 days in room temperature

2. Mix in some grated ginger paste, lemon juice, fresh coriander properly.

Key ingredients: • • • • • • • • • • •

Boiled and mashed potato – 1 cup Boiled and mashed peas – ½ cup Salt as per taste Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp Black pepper powder - just a pinch Cumin coriander powder – 1 tsp Garam masala - 1/2 tsp Grated ginger paste – 1/4 tsp Lemon juice – 2-3 drops Finely chopped coriander – 1 tbsp Buttered puff pastry sheet – 1 box (2 sheets)

3. Preheat oven at 270 F. 4. Now take store bought puff pastry sheet and cut out rectangle pieces. 5. Fill the pieces with potato and peas stuffing. 6. Fold the sheet and seal all the edges with the help of a fork. 7. Put a parchment paper/baking sheet on the oven tray and place all of the ready pockets of potato puff on baking sheet. 8. Since its already a buttered pastry sheet, there is no need to apply butter on top of it but can still do a garlic and butter wash for more flavour. 9. Bake it in the oven until it is golden brown in color. It should approximately take 15-18 minutes. 10. Once cooked perfectly, it is ready to serve while hot. Tips: 1. For a spicy flavour, add green chilli paste into the stuffing mixture as per taste. 2. The stuffing can be alternated with noodles, cottage cheese or chicken for a savoury taste. It can also be made sweet. 3. The buttered pastry is available in any local grocery store. 9

THE musAiMOTHER-SON caL DUO STORY Family that sings together, stays together


Farin Hasham, 44, and her son, Rihaan Somani, 20, are extremely talented Bollywood singers in Calgary. The single mom and her son moved to Calgary, Canada in 2011 from Tanzania, Africa when Somani was only 12 years old. Though the duo has no connection with the Indian film industry or the Indian heritage, they simply prefer to sing Bollywood songs because

they feel connected to the music. “Bollywood is a big thing in Tanzania, actually all of East Africa,” claims Somani, about the influence of the Indian culture on his life since his childhood. They sing different Hindi songs such as, ghazals, sad songs, dance tracks, and a few popular Punjabi and African songs. “We speak the Hindi language,

don’t know how but I think we learnt it from watching Bollywood movies,” said Hasham. “We have travelled there in the past. We understand what we’re singing.” While Hasham was always fascinated with singing since she was younger, she only pursued her dreams after she watched her son, Somani, acknowledge his talent as

a singer. “I always wanted to sing as a child. I would actually practice singing on my own,” declares Hasham. “I never thought I would ever be able to do it.” Somani’s path to success with singing started when he was a young boy performing in front of his batchmates at an adventure camp. “It started with three boys in a tent who then asked me to sing again in front of everyone,” shares Somani, who’s favourite song to sing then was ‘Desi Boys’. “I sang in front of 100 people as part of a competition at another camp. Everyone just loved it,” said Somani, about when he realized his raw potential as a singer. Hasham would always tease her son that she would sing with him someday. Somani had realized that having a female singer as a partner is an advantage since it brings variation and would open more doors for them as singers. “I didn’t know my mum’s dream was to sing,” claims Somani, who was unaware for years about his mother’s passion. Somani was offered the opportunity to sing at an event with a female partner and Hasham’s confidence was soaring then, so she agreed to sing with her only son. “We’ve been singing together for two years now,” shares Somani, since the mother-son duo decided to pair up to spread joy through singing. “She was always more invested in music and brought in some songs that I had never heard of,” said Somani. “She gave me training and really helped me. I helped her too by getting her out of her comfort zone.” The pair dreams of spending time in India to receive professional training in Indian music from there and

performing professionally on bigger platforms. They need to predict the mood of their audience and set their song list accordingly. “People would think it’s easier to train when you live together but I think it’s harder,” declares Somani. “You don’t have a scheduled time to meet each other. The practice that goes into singing is a lot.” They used music as a way to connect with each other throughout the years to forget about the hardships they faced. “We are a team. We want singing to stay for as long as we can,” exclaims Hasham, proudly, for the positive improvement in their lives after they started singing casually.

“Rihaan was living my dream. Kids always complete their parents’ dream,” said Hasham. “It brought my excitement of singing back into my life.” Their efforts and hard work have been noticed by a lot of members from the South Asian community in Calgary. It has been immensely motivating because they have received positive comments about the pair’s struggles to create an identity for themselves. “Everyone says ‘It’s so beautiful to see a mother and son singing on stage together’,” shares Hasham, about how the positive comments overpower the negative. “People think it’s a nice combination and appreciate it.”

Rihaan Somani, left, and Farin Hasham, right, pose for a picture at their home in Northeast Calgary.




Profile for YYCultured


YYCultured is Calgary’s only source that connects diversity and spreads awareness about the cultural minorities and their traditions. With a...


YYCultured is Calgary’s only source that connects diversity and spreads awareness about the cultural minorities and their traditions. With a...