Updated: Jan 6
Looking back, it seems like a different world. That crisp morning, as I walked through the crowded streets of Vancouver to attend the first St. Brigid’s Day Vancouver festival, I could not have imagined how life would change so dramatically in the coming weeks.
I found the conference rooms at Simon Fraser University bustling with women, young and old, Irish and Canadian. The occasional person welded hand sanitizer, however, the approaching danger of COVID 19, at that very moment felt unfathomable. It was a day filled with laughter, tears, cultural celebration and collaboration.
Seated at a table piled with the remains of what looked like a very successful St. Brigid cross-making workshop, I fiddled with the leftover colourful pipe cleaners while listening to the letters of the diaspora workshop.
The room was encircled in the “Blazing a Trail: Lives and Legacies of Irish Diaspora Women” exhibit, showcasing the stories and history of Irish women who came before us and made achievements beyond imagination.
Later I lurked at the back of the mental health panel and listened while my compatriots shared tales of the immigrant experience and discussed the effect it has on wellbeing.
The evening was one filled with celebration; historian and curator of “Blazing a Trail” Dr. Angela Byrne took to the podium to detail the achievements and discoveries of our fellow countrywomen. Proceeded by a member of the Squamish Nation and closed by the Irish Consul General, we were reminded of our shared history, where we come from and how far we have travelled.
The evening closed like any good Irish gathering, with live music, food and drinks. A busy room filled with excited, chatty and wonderful people. A different world, but one we can look forward to returning to. In the meantime, the celebration of Irish women continues.
This year, Féile Bríde will be hosted digitally, so not only can our friends in Vancouver join the celebration, but anyone, anywhere can join. Rather than a single day event, we can anticipate a full week of virtual sessions, and we look forward to sharing the incredible line up very soon.
Till then, take care and stay safe.