The recently formed Cochrane Black Community held its first major event on June 29 to share their culture with the community.

It was a barbecue that featured plenty of food, music, games and a chance to mingle.

"We want to bring in as many people as possible from outside of our culture to learn about our culture, learn about our food, our music, and just to bond with us," explains Theresa Valerie Oheneba-Dornyo, vice-president of the organization. "That is why we came up with this and everything that you see here we contributed this from our own pocket." 

She says they enjoyed a good turnout.

"A lot of them are trying out our food and they're amazed about it, so I'm excited for that, and I'm hoping that we can continue to do this to bring in more people to get to know more about us and to give them the free platform to ask questions."

Peter GuthrieMLA Peter Guthrie mingled and spoke briefly at the barbecue.

Local MLA and Infrastructure Peter Guthrie and his wife Tracy were among the guests.

"Cochrane is growing like crazy and it's events like this just help us to connect and become a community. And you know, I just so appreciate coming here, trying new food, and meeting new people. It's been great."

He created a strong connection with the Cochrane Immigrant Services Committee early on in his role as MLA.

"It's a little tough on the waistline at times from all the great food, but it's just so much fun. Everybody is always smiling, happy and they're warm and welcoming. That's what I really like it. You just come here, you feel good, and you walk away with some new friends."

Mayor JeffMayor Jeff Genung also attended.

Mayor Jeff Genung appreciated the invitation and praised their idea of having a barbecue in a public park.

"I think they're really modeling what it is that I would love to see in every neighborhood park on every weekend," says Mayor Genung.  "We don't have that long of a summer and when it's warm out, we should be out enjoying it, so hats off to the group for organizing this barbecue."

"I just love the opportunity for people to share their culture and their cuisine with us. And yeah, I really enjoyed the chicken."

It's coming up on 19 years since Chefya Mate moved to Cochrane. She's pleased with how the group has helped create a connection between the back people in the community, many she's seeing for the first time.

"So, for the black community, and even the few whites that are here to come out that's huge. And that's just something that we want where we can have places where you can connect, where you can come out from your hiding and say, you know what? Today I'm going to hang out with my friends."

She encourages the entire community to connect with what's happening around them and to feel safe.

"The more we know each other, the more comfortable we'll be with one another."

Jonathan Myers recently graduated from St. Timothy High School and has lived here for 10 years.

He says the black community has grown substantially since he moved here with his family.

"I think it's very important to get together and build a sense of community because when you have the community behind your back, anything is possible."

The group hopes to make the community barbecue an annual event.

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