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Burlington celebration ushers in the Year of the Dragon

Chinese culture front and centre Feb. 10 at free exhibition in the BPAC lobby
Dancers in elaborate costumes perform during the 2023 Lunar New Year concert at BPAC. There are still tickets available for purchase for this year's event, which takes place Feb. 10.

When Lily Hudson learned in 2013 of the struggles a friend and recent immigrant from China was having in adapting to Canadian culture, she decided to start a support group for others facing the same dilemma.

The Redleaf Cultural Integration (RCI) organization was founded with the modest intention of explaining the unspoken rules and habits of Canadian life while at the same time providing a safe space for immigrants to enjoy some of the traditions of life back home.

As its website states, “Redleaf Cultural Integration is committed to providing support for newcomers to Canada to integrate into the local community. Our different themed projects focus on promoting multiculturalism, the physical and mental health of people of all ages, and enhancing community inclusiveness”.

Today, RCI offers a range of programs and services such as English language lessons, Yoga and Tai Chi classes, singing and dancing opportunities, badminton sessions, and other programs geared to seniors and youth.

The highlight of the non-profit organization is its celebration of the Chinese New Year; held this year at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre (BPAC) on Feb. 10. It is open to all members of the public, not just those in the Chinese community.

From 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the BPAC lobby, a Cultural Exhibition will feature a variety of tables and displays aimed at introducing residents to culinary delights, tea ceremonies, face painting for children, calligraphy demonstrations and the chance to be photographed with some Lion dancers in elaborate costumes. Admission is free.

Performances start at 3 p.m. in the Main Theatre (admission is $35 per person) and will feature over an hour of music, dance and demonstrations to formally kick off the Year of the Dragon (one of the 12-year animals in the zodiac cycle) Celebration.

This annual show normally sells out but tickets are still available through the BPAC box office either online or by calling 905-681-6000.

“RCI’s slogan is Better Together Because we all Belong, ” said Hudson. “We say that because we want to see a more inclusive community. We want to share our Chinese culture to encourage mutual understanding and appreciate that we can learn from one another.”

Hudson wished to express thanks to RCI’s supporters and funding sources, including the City of Burlington’s Arts & Culture Fundm the Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Federal New Horizons for Seniors program.

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Lawson Hunter

About the Author: Lawson Hunter

Lawson Hunter has been a freelance writer for more than 30 years. His articles on technology, the environment, and business have been published in local and national newspapers, magazines and trade publications
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