Thundering Nations International | Photo: Courtesy of Action Dignity
How do you grow a community out of a whole world full of different ones? That’s a question that popped up frequently in the offices of Marichu Antonio, the Executive Director of Action Dignity–formerly the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary—an organization dedicated to working with culturally diverse communities from every corner of the planet to negotiate what was often an unwelcoming, challenging and highly racialized Canada.
Based on 2017 recipients of Calgary Arts Development’s Artist Opportunity Grant.
In 2015, Kaely Cormack and Hayley Muir, members of The Shiverettes, a Calgary feminist punk band, took a look around Calgary’s punk music scene. The view lacked something. “There just weren’t many women,” Cormack says. “We’d play a lot of shows and we’d be the only women onstage. We’d be the only women organizing shows, but there would be no women doing sound. It was just very male-centric. We didn’t see ourselves represented in the scene.”
2017 headliner Sammus performs at the Femme Wave Fun House | Photo: Jarrett Edmund
Cool Choir performs at the Jubilee | Photo: Richard Alan Brown
Cool Choir is fairly new in Calgary but represents a modern concept in choirs that is very popular in the United Kingdom. Cool Choir takes the traditional classical or community choir experience and injects well-known rock and pop songs—everything from Queen, Michael Jackson, and Tom Jones to Ed Sheerhan, Coldplay, American Authors, and many more. Calgary’s largest adult choir (over 300 people singly weekly), in 2017 they released an emotionally-charged new and original anthem, celebrating diversity, as part of the Canada 150 anniversary. There are no auditions, no requirements to read music and no training or prior singing experience is needed. Cool Choir operates on the ethos ‘if you can speak you can sing’ and offers weekly rehearsals in a fun, welcoming and relaxed, all-inclusive environment.
Calgary hosted the world’s first Empathy Week in June 2017, with the second festival taking place June 1 to 7, 2018. Empathy Week is a seven-day festival of events that promotes empathy, human connection, and the recognition of our shared humanity. Empathy Week is a community initiative curated by Humainologie (a division of the Calgary Centre for Global Community) with numerous partners and individual Calgarians coming together to host a variety of events that are suitable for diverse audiences with varied interests as a way of creating strong relationships and healthy communities.
The Unity Project, St. Patrick’s Island | Photo: Chris Jensen