There has been a lot of ant-Asian sentiment since COVID-19 arrived in March 2020.
An event held Saturday in Welland was designed to flatten this as much as possible by celebrating the Asian community.
A water lantern festival, hosted by Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, took place at dusk at Chippawa Park, a public space with a large man-made pond that suited the event nicely, said executive director Emily Kovacs.
She called it a “beautiful evening” that was “quite magical,” an opportunity to celebrate without conflict.
“We thought it was important for us to not only support the community, but also provide a different side of the community,” she said in an interview Sunday.
About 150 lanterns, made from biodegradable rice paper, were cast into the pond, where they sat lit with candles for about three to four hours.
“It was a fantastic turnout,” Kovacs said.
“When you have a collective opportunity to put in your best wishes, you benefit from each others’ goodwill.
“There’s a lot of meaning behind it,” she said about the event, and how it was crucial to hold it through lenses of “art, love and therapy.”
Due to weather concerns, the event was scheduled for Friday but pushed back a day.
The event, Wishes on the Water, was designed to create a safe space, using art to encourage dialogue, compassion and understanding.
The “quiet and personal reflective event” was family-friendly and designed to especially accommodate people with mobility and sensory/auditory concerns, said organizers.
People in attendance enjoyed live traditional and modern Chinese music performed by Helen Huang on violin and Lion Dancers.
Organizers are thankful for its sponsors, such as RBC, the City of Welland through its special events grants program and Ontario Trillium Foundation. Welland Heritage Council and Fort Erie Multicultural Centre were also supportive of the event.