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Edmonton Heritage Festival: Culture minister buys Sierra Leonean painting

By  | 6 August 2019 at 06:58 | 1292 views

Sierra Leone welcomed a high profile visitor to her stand at the Edmonton Heritage Festival on Sunday August 4, 2019. The Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women, Leela Aheer, met with volunteers from Sierra Leone Association of Alberta (SLAA) who were representing the country at the three-day fair. She was so moved by the colourful Sierra Leonean paintings on show, she bought one on the spur of the moment.

It was the second day of the festival and Minister Aheer was interacting with people in the area. Aheer was there meeting and greeting people; as she waited to watch a dance performance by exhibitors from Albania-Kosova. She was also scheduled to make a speech to the Albanian exhibitors and their guests.

The minister was standing several metres away when the Sierra Leonean paintings caught her eye. Minister Aheer immediately asked her chief of staff Mandi Johnson to contact the exhibitors at the stand. “The minister is really interested in these paintings, Mandi Johnson told an SLAA volunteer at the stand.

Minister Aheer ( left) with Sierra Leonean artist Gibril Bangura

Sierra Leone’s pavilion, Tent #70, also houses communities like Albania-Kosova, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Somalia. The booth showcases exhibits by compatriots Angela Conteh, Cecilia, and Gibril Bangura. The biggest attractions, since Day One of the festival, have been the paintings. Each drawing, set on canvas, is an original piece by Sierra Leonean artist Gibril Bangura.

Sierra Leone stand. Cecelia Hopanda from Sierra Leone

Hon. Aheer is Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Alberta, representing Chestermere-Strathmore constituency. She talked with Gibril for quite a while; as she made the purchase; The minister personally paid for the painting. It was such a prized piece; just by the way the minister spoke about the painting.

Minister Aheer at the Sierra Leone stand

One of her aides promptly took the art work to a waiting vehicle, as the minister moved on to meet exhibitors at the stands featuring respective displays from Burkina Faso and Ghana.

Burkina Faso

Edmonton Heritage Festival is an international fair started here over 40 years. It attracts and promotes cultures from all over the world. Organized by the Edmonton Heritage Festival Association, the festival is sponsored by the cooperative bank SERVUS.

Ghana stand