A very creative Calgarian is celebrating a major new honour — national recognition for his hard work in helping diverse communities celebrate common ground together.
Lanre Ajayi has been honoured by the Toronto-based magazine Canadian Immigrant, which has included him in its 2021 list of “The Top 25 Canadian Immigrants.”
“To make the top 25 is huge, it’s very humbling,” Ajayi said.
“I feel honoured and blessed.”
Ajayi is a multidisciplinary artist, who has worked in many areas since arriving in Calgary from his native Nigeria in 2015.
“I paint, I do fashion, I do festivals,” Ajayi said.
Among his achievements is producing the annual Ethnik Festival in Calgary.
The event showcases Afro-Canadian culture during Black History Month.
“We’re communicating our cultural and uniqueness to everybody,” Ajayi said. “Because when we understand our cultural differences, we will know how to relate to one another.”
Ajayi was sharing his talents Thursday as a guest instructor at a Calgary arts centre.
“We work with about 300 artists each week with disabilities,” the National accessArts Centre’s Karly Mortimer said. “And Lanre is an incredible advocate for them, showing them new ways of working.”
Tony French was one of the artists working with Ajayi on creating colourful paintings.
“I’ve never done this before. It’s really neat to find out how many colours you can blend,” French said.
“It’s a chance to inspire myself as an artist.”
Ajayi said his work at the arts centre fits in well with his goal of bringing together communities.
“Create that opportunity for diversity and inclusivity, for everyone to have a space and have a place and have their voice heard,” he said.
Mortimer said she couldn’t be more proud that Ajayi is being honoured as one of Canada’s top immigrants.
“It’s so well deserved,” Mortimer said. “Lanre is such an incredible community connector.”
Ajayi said he hopes to continue finding new ways to bring Calgarians together.
“Our diversity brings about our uniqueness,” he said. “And helps us to live together as one big Canadian family.”
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