Celebrate African and Caribbean Culture and Products at Vancouver’s Afro World Expo

Western Canada’s largest showcasing of African and Caribbean goods, culture, and entertainment is coming to Vancouver next month. Home to a multitude of diverse communities, Vancouver is the ideal place for learning more about the rich talent of African and Caribbean artists, artisans, and entrepreneurs.

Taking place at the Vancouver Convention Centre (East Exhibit Hall A) June 1 (10am to 8pm) and 2 (10am to 5pm), Afro World Expo is a two-day event that features educational workshops and networking opportunities for small business owners and artists, as well as events and programming of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about African and Caribbean offerings and culture. The Expo is organized by the Black Business Association of BC, a non-profit organization that does incredible work supporting Black entrepreneurs in starting up and expanding their businesses.

The program includes a seminar on “Wealth Planning for Entrepreneurs and Families” (June 1, 1:30pm), how to “Venture Capital Reverse Pitch” (June 1, 2:15pm), as well as a panel on “How to Thrive in the Music Industry” (June 2, 10:30am).

Each day of the Afro World Expo contains exciting events that highlight the diversity of African and Caribbean artists and makers. June 1’s line-up encompasses a fashion show with innovative local designers (4:30pm), in addition to a tasty competition (12pm) involving jollof rice, a traditional West African dish. Attendees will get the chance to sample jollof rice. Highly anticipated is their headliner act, TiKA Simone (5:45pm), an R&B artist.

June 2 is all about showcasing African and Caribbean music and dance with a wide range of performances scheduled, including ones by Lordnation (urban violinist) at 12:20pm, The Headley’s (steelpan) at 1:25pm, and Tugstar (modern reggae) at 2:15pm. There will also be soca dancing (11:35am), an African traditional costume masquerade (2:25pm), and African drumming (3pm).

Both days will offer a vendors’ market for browsing goods from over 50 exhibitors, selling a range of products, such as skin care, art, apparel, accessories, home décor, and food items. Vendors include Naza Naturals, which sells handcrafted body care products, and A&T Apothecary, which specializes in aromatherapy and candles. Community groups, such as the Haitian Cultural Association of BC, as well as other small businesses, such as Afro Hair Studio, will also have booths at the Expo.

Meanwhile, attendees can visit the bistro on site for cultural delicacies such as curried goat and jerk chicken. You’ll leave the Expo not only having eaten delicious food, but full of appreciation for and knowledge of African and Caribbean culture and entrepreneurship. Further information about Afro World Expo can be found here.

African and Caribbean Businesses and Festivals in Vancouver

After attending the Afro World Expo, you may be inspired to support African and Caribbean businesses and organizations in the city. Vancouver has numerous outstanding restaurants and food establishments, including Baby Dhal Roti Shop (Trinidadian), Calabash Bistro (Caribbean), Riddim & Spice (Jamaican), Harambe Ethiopian Restaurant, and Michelin-recommended Arike (modern African).

Retail-wise, you can shop at Rise Up Marketplace, a convenience store in East Vancouver that sells Jamaican patties, coco buns, in addition to products like Kula Pili Sauce, Grace Jerk BBQ Sauce, and Mumgry Peanut Butter. Africana General Market on Kingsway carries a range of African and Caribbean products. Meanwhile, Granville Island is home to UEL (Unity, Excellence, and Legacy), run by the Black Business Association of BC, which includes products by vendors of Caribbean and African descent; Kasandy, a fair-trade store that sells artisanal goods made in East Africa; and Ukama Gallery, which represents over 200 artists from Zimbabwe.

If you’re looking for other events that spotlight African and Caribbean culture, one key festival is the African Descent Festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The African Descent Festival, which will take place August 10 and 11 at English Bay Beach, showcases the cultures of those of African heritage through a diversity of artistic and musical performances, as well as craft and food vendors, and fun activities.

And the Caribbean Days Festival at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park (July 27-28) is a lively, family-friendly annual event that features a Carnival Parade, a stage with live performances, plenty of delicious food and drink, and merchandise vendors.

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