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Photos: BLM Sudbury holds first-ever ‘Culture Matrix’ festival

Event aims to ‘uplift and highlight’ the BIPOC community

A brand-new event took place in downtown Sudbury Saturday. Black Lives Matter Sudbury held its first-ever arts festival, dubbed Culture Matrix Black Arts Festival.

Festival co-ordinator and BLM Sudbury co-founder Ra’anaa Brown said the event is designed to “uplift and highlight” BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) artists, practitioners and facilitators in the Greater Sudbury community.

“So we really wanted to look at folks, both locally and nationally, who are recognized for shifting the stigma and really changing the scene of what arts can be within the lands we now call Canada,” Brown said.

The event began at noon outside on Durham Street, and featured free activities such as group yoga, a hip-hop healing session, a silk-screening workshop and a Niger dance class.

Culture Matrix is being hosted in collaboration with next week's Up Here festival. Durham Street has already been partially closed as organizers prepare for Up Here, and Culture Matrix was able to use the space for their event. Up Here’s signature geodesic dome is already in place.

While things seemed quiet at the beginning of the event early in the afternoon on Saturday, Brown said she expected attendance would pick up as the day went on, especially during the evening.

Activities move to the brand-new Place des arts building in downtown Sudbury this evening, where there will be live music.

The lineup of acclaimed performers includes a number of Juno award winners including headliner, Haviah Mighty, Juno-award winning artist and Canadian rapper, Naya Ali, Drag King Prince Manny Dingo and new addition, Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie, a Pow-Wow singer/song maker and Men's Traditional Dancer who incorporates traditions and modern sounds into his music. 

Brown said it was her hope that people attending the event have a chance to connect with each other, “and just leave feeling good and connected to the community and feel like they were really a part of something new.”

The event also featured a number of vendors and exhibitors set up on Durham Street. Among those taking part was Zena’s Popcorn owner Mobola Ellen Abajingin. 

She said she normally sets up her gourmet popcorn stall in the Sudbury Market on Elgin Street, but as a Black business owner, she decided to sell this weekend at Culture Matrix instead.

“(The festival is) new, and it’s going to be fun," she said. "I'm excited that different cultures are coming together to do something fun for the community.”

If you’d like to take in the live performances this evening, you can purchase tickets online here. A small number of tickets will be available at the door.