November 27, 2023

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Coptic festival returns for Winnipeg’s Egyptian community after pandemic hiatus

An annual event in Winnipeg’s Egyptian community is happening again this weekend for the first time since before the pandemic began.

The Manitoba Coptic Egyptian Festival celebrates the flight of Jesus Christ and his family to Egypt, Father Marcos Farag said Saturday, when the two-day event kicked off at the St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church.

“It’s kind of awareness for everyone,” Farag said. “We’re happy that the holy family came to Egypt and spent almost three [and a half] years … living in Egypt, speaking our language, sharing our life.”

He said most of the congregation at the Coptic Orthodox church are Egyptian, but there are also some Ethiopian and Eritrean families among the community.

Farag said it was tough to push the event back for two years, and people are relieved to finally get together again.

Father Marcos Farag stands outside St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church on Saturday as the first day of the Manitoba Coptic Egyptian Festival kicks off inside. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

The event also features Egyptian food, performances, a bazaar and activities for children. Everyone is welcome, said volunteer Mina Sourial.

“It’s really a chance for us to express [our faith], to be able to share it with others, and at the same time for us to meet others,” Sourial said. 

“In Winnipeg, there’s lots of different cultures, lots of different beliefs, backgrounds,” he said. “We’re just happy that we can meet everybody, that we can share with them and [we’re] also happy that they share with us.”

Festival volunteer Kyria Danial said the event is one lots of people look forward to each year.

“A lot of people wait for this, even if they’re not from this church,” Danial said.

She said she’s proud to share her heritage with people.

“Being Egyptian is very special, because [of things like] the pharaohs,” Danial said. “They were the first to create paper. It’s kind of special … to know that you’re part of that culture.”

Friends Chris Dous and Daniel Nashed said they were excited to hear the event was finally coming back after such a long hiatus.

Nashed said he loves every part of the festival.

Chris Dous and Daniel Nashed say they were excited to come back to the Manitoba Coptic Egyptian Festival this year. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

“Definitely 10 out of 10,” he said. “You get to meet new people. The environment is nice, the people are nice and the food is spectacular.”

The Manitoba Coptic Egyptian Festival continues on Sunday at 1111 Chevrier Blvd., from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free.