West Prince residents were given an opportunity to come together as one big community to celebrate the region’s diversity with the Neighbour-2-Neighbour event at Westisle Composite High School on Feb. 8.
Ruby Lubigan is originally from the Philippines. She owns and operates the Sari-Sari Asian Food Store in Bloomfield. She was one of 70 plus booths set up in the school’s lobby. She was showcasing different products from her store along with food samples from her native country.
She called the Neighbour-2-Neigbhour awesome, saying the 2020 event was bigger and better than the one two years ago at Hernewood Intermediate High School.
“There is a lot of people around and there’s lots of booths and the people around are really trying to meet their neighbours,” she said.
CBDC West Prince Ventures Ltd hosted this event at Hernewood two years ago to recognize the growing diversity in the West Prince area.
“A lot has happened in the last two years and we have a lot more diversity in the region,” said the organization’s executive director Maxine Rennie in her remarks during the event’s opening ceremony. “We really want to celebrate all of us coming together and getting to know one another... It’s truly been an event for West Prince to showcase what we have to offer.”
The opening ceremony included an Olympic-style flag ceremony, speeches by dignitaries and a special welcome to new local healthcare professionals by Health PEI.
Out in the lobby, there were booths with cultural displays, from local service providers, businesses, volunteer opportunities, non-profits, and government services. Many of the booths were offering free food sampling from PEI and around the world, giving people lots of chances to mingle, socialize and meet their neighbours.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Scott Smith, the West Prince Community Navigator and one of the Neighbour-2-Neighbour coordinators. “Lot’s of people represented and lot’s of people from all kinds of different cultural backgrounds, lot’s of diversity.”
Mr Smith said the impressive turn out shows West Prince is a community full of people willing to support each other.
“We are an inclusive community and we want everyone to feel welcomed,” he said.
Mr Smith said growing inclusiveness is the main goal of Neighbour-2-Neighbour.
“It just shows the community spirit that we have in West Prince,” he said. “All together it’s been a perfect day.”
The highlight of the event was the keynote address from Tareq Hadhad.
Mr Hadhad said during his address that he was happy to see so many different booths representing so many different countries.
“I feel like I’m talking at the UN,” joked the CEO and founder of Peace by Chocolate Company in Nova Scotia.
Following his address, Mr Hadhad was out in the lobby, meeting with people.
He called the Neighbour-2-Neighbour an phenomenal event.
“It’s a great way to break the barriers between people and bring people together,” he said.
Ms Lubigan hopes the Neighbour-2-Neighbour can be annually event in West Prince.
“It’s just really nice,” she said. “We’re just like a family here. We’re welcomed.”