Algonquin College students light up Year of the Dragon with a lion dance in MP-hosted event

"The celebration provides us with a great opportunity to show and communicate Chinese traditional culture," ACCA president says
Photo: Laiyiady Lam
The HongMen Lion Dance Team led by ACCA's president performed the lion dance on stage near Parliament Hill on Feb. 17.

The president of the Algonquin College Chinese Alumni Association (ACCA) led students in performing a lion dance at the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration hosted by Chandra Arya near Parliament Hill on Feb. 17.

As the children from Buddha’s Light Dharma Drum Team rhythmically beat a Chinese drum with a golden shell, the Chinese Year of the Dragon celebration, hosted by Arya, the Member of Parliament for Nepean, officially kicked off in the Sir John A. Macdonald Building.

The celebration was primarily organized by Arya, along with the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa and the HuaXing Arts Group Toronto. ACCA was one of the community organizations participating, contributing performances and collaborating with other community members to present the celebration.

When the celebration reached its climax, the Hongmen Youth Lion Dance Team, led by ACCA president Xuefeng Wang, confidently stepped onto the stage.

Wang is currently a student in project management after graduating from the interactive media design program.

The iconic sounds of drums and cymbals attracted the lions, arousing their eagerness to capture the Big Head Buddha. As the performers danced, the red and green patterns on the lion’s body flowed like a waterfall, while the scales shimmered with dazzling light.

According to Wang, there are about 10 people on the team. They include students and alumni from the college, as well as people who are studying at other schools or working. None of the team members had any experience or knowledge of the lion dance before.

“We are beginners and we learned the dance through YouTube,” Wang said. “There were some mistakes, but the outcome exceeded our expectations.”

A Cantonese Opera "The Love of ChunXiang" was performed by Mengwei Yue-Opera Studio during the celebration at Parliament Hill on Feb.17.
A Cantonese Opera "The Love of ChunXiang" was performed by Mengwei Yue-Opera Studio during the celebration at Parliament Hill on Feb.17. Photo credit: Laiyiady Lam

Woxuan Ma is a student studying in the electrical engineering technician program at Algonquin College. She was in charge of cymbals during the performance. Compared with the previous performance, she feels more confident in showcasing Chinese culture today.

Ma felt deeply touched by the performance. “The determination in their eyes deeply moved me,” she said.

The Lion Dance Team members expressed great honour and excitement about the invitation from Arya. They saw it as a recognition of their efforts and an opportunity to promote traditional Chinese culture.

When asked why he wanted to host this event, Arya said Chinese culture and heritage are long and profound, and they have been integrated into Canada’s diverse culture.

“Chinese culture, Chinese heritage, it has got a long history. Now it is part of the Canadian multicultural family,” he said. “It is not just limited to Chinese, Koreans, but it is there for every single Canadian to watch and enjoy.”

The MPs wish Algonquin College and people who are celebrating the Lunar New Year, “a very happy, healthy, prosperous year of the dragon,” Arya said.

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