A new television documentary about the Ismaili community and the Calgary Stampede was recently released in Canada. East Meets Western describes two seemingly disparate cultures steeped in their respective traditions that have built a successful relationship based on shared values.
Filmed in Calgary in July 2008 during the Canadian Jamat's National I-STAR Awards – which recognise excellence among Canadian Ismaili students in various disciplines – the documentary is set in the milieu of the Calgary Stampede, an annual 10-day festival and exhibition that draws more than 1.2 million visitors. In addition to highlighting the Calgary Jamat's 23-year participation in Stampede festivities, the film follows a group of three National I-STAR finalists and an Ismaili family that immigrated to Canada from Afghanistan, all of whom are experiencing the Stampede for the first time.
“I think that the Ismailis have been really good at saying to their community, the Stampede is a really important part of [Calgary]… and we have to participate in this cultural icon. And it's been tremendous; really tremendous…” says George Brookman, Past President of The Calgary Stampede. “They are like the Tiger Woods of float building,” he continued, referring to the Calgary Jamat's reputation for repeatedly building award-winning Calgary Stampede Parade floats since 1988.
The 60-minute film showcases the volunteerism, creativity and organisational skills of the Jamat, and highlights the important historical role that the Stampede has played in promoting cultural pluralism in Calgary. The film also emphasises the importance of ethics, such as compassion, generosity and respect for others, in building a strong community.
East Meets Western, which premiered on Sunday, 28 June, is being broadcast on OMNI stations across Canada.