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Afro Gala a first in Pitt Meadows

The evening will celebrate African identity, culture and community

An evening celebrating African identity, culture and community is coming to Pitt Meadows.

The Afro Gala will feature an “Out of Africa” fashion show and performances by local artists 2Cs Crew and The Rwanda Duo, along with dinner and three awards for outstanding members of the local African community.

The main objective of the gala is to provide an avenue for showcasing black and African cultural heritage, to unite Africans of all nationalities and to promote inter-cultural relationships.

“We feel that it is a community event that is geared towards bringing our people together and building a kind of bridge between the racial divides,” explained Onyeka Dozie, chairman of the organizing team.

Dozie said the event also highlights Black History Month, a month-long event celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of black Canadians that takes place in February.

Dozie and his wife Linda started the gala at their home in Maple Ridge. At first they would invite people to their house to connect them with others in the community. As the event grew, they moved it to the Wilson Centre in Port Coquitlam, where it has been held for the past five years. But this year, due to construction, the organizers had to find another home and moved it to Pitt Meadows Heritage Hall.

Special guests will include Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker and Pitt Meadows Maple Ridge MP Dan Ruimy.

“If you look at what’s happening in the States, the white-against-black kind of thing, we are grateful that it is not happening here,” said Dozie.

“And one of the things we are doing here is to make sure that relationship is maintained so that we don’t degenerate into what is happening in the States.”

Three individuals will be honoured at the event, including Nalda Callender, executive director for the National Congress of Black Women Foundation, a group that is dedicated to improving the lives of black women and girls in the community.

Dozie says Callender deserves recognition for helping women fleeing abusive relationships, giving food to those who are hungry and by providing literary assistance.

“We feel that education is one very important thing that will help the black community in this area,” Dozie said.

Saul Phiri, who has been involved with the local Zambian community, and Dr. Josiah Akinsami, who works with the local Nigerian community, will also be honoured at the event.

• The Afro Gala takes place at 6 p.m. on Feb. 10 at Heritage Hall, 12460 Harris Rd in Pitt Meadows. Dress code is formal or ethnic. Tickets are $30 or $35 at the door. Those 12-to-17-years are $15, 6-to-11-years $10 and children under 6-years are free.For more information, call 604-505-7698 or 778-240-8256.

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