A testament to hope and diversity at UOIT

Photo by Austin Andru

Chelsea and Saleen Nolan of 2 Cute 4 Country perform in front of The Rose of Hope.

Oshawa councillor Rick Kerr was saddened by shootings at a Quebec City mosque last fall.

This spring he held an event to inspire hope.

“The Cycle is about new artwork development and community integration,” said Kerr on March 25 at UOIT. Kerr announced the event at city council after the deadly shooting at a Mosque in Quebec City, leaving many Canadians in fear.

In an effort to bring communities and artists together, Kerr organized an event called The Cycle.

The Cycle was an initiative by Kerr to bring the art community together to focus on a single theme, hope.

Kerr says he wanted to allow artists to build connections and work with others on a multi-genre piece. Every piece was the individual’s interpretation of hope.

Guests were encouraged to write the word “Hope” on a blank canvas in their native language. Hope was written in 33 different languages by the end of the night.

Anybody in the community had an open invitation to participate. The March 25 event was free and ran on March 25. Oshawa mayor John Henry kicked the night off with a short introduction to the collaborative painting, The Rose of Hope.

The Rose of Hope is an original by Janice Brown and Cycle artists, including Kerr and Henry. The byline said, “Designed by Janice Brown, painted by many hands.”

The show was not juried. No commission and no prizes. Kerr says it served as a networking event for students and professionals.

The AIDS Committee of Durham hung leaves surrounding the entrance with hopeful stories written by clients.

The show featured spoken-word poetry, interpretive dance, sculptures, paintings and ceramics.

The lineup included the Walter E. Harris Public School Choir, Jaylen Stark, Adnan Sirajuddin, the Metis Council, Durham Folklore Storytellers, Roxanne Christian, Durham Shoestring Performers, 2Cute4Country, The Tapestry, Durham Youth Orchestra and many more solo performers.

During Jaylen Stark’s performance, Patty Bowman Kingsley painted to the poem’s words. Later in the night, Stark performed once more, as the O’Neill Creative Dance Troupe and Senior Chamber choir provided the backdrop.

“Take that, Toronto,” said Kerr after Stark’s performance, following a round of applause.

“It’s extremely inspiring for people to come together…to spread hope,” said Chelsea Nolan, of 2Cute4Country. “This was an incredibly great event.”

Adnan Sirajuddin, a Syrian musician, says it’s important for Muslims to be a part of these cultural events. “The message of Islam has been destroyed,” he says. “We are a peaceful people.”

Sirajuddin says there is a tainted perception of Islam by some people. He says Muslims have a hard time getting play TV or radio. Despite this, he says he loves Canada because people here do not judge citizens based on religion and Canada has provided him a safe place to live for more than 50 years. “Canada has protected me,” Sirajuddin said.

At the end of the evening, Kerr auctioned the Rose of Hope. It sold for $400. Proceeds went to the student bursary fund at UOIT.

“I am ecstatic!” said Kerr.