Windsor, Ontario, Canada’s southernmost city has a rich ethnic and cultural identity. From its beginnings as First Nations, and later French agricultural settlements, Windsor has been an inviting and attractive destination – welcoming all those who arrive.
Following the War of 1812 and throughout the 19th century, many ethnic communities settled in Windsor. Immigrant groups built their own churches and organized ethno-cultural clubs in order to meet their religious, social and cultural needs.
As immigration increased, so did the needs of newcomers, particularly in the areas of reception, integration, and adult education. Organizations were established in order to provide welcoming services and settlement assistance.
Also identified as vitally important, was the need to preserve and celebrate the heritage and practices of the many cultures now established in the city. A number of groups were formed to ensure that traditions and customs were not only shared, but also celebrated.
In October of 1971, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau adopted Multiculturalism as the official policy of the government of Canada. With an initial grant from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, a meeting of over 100 ethno-cultural clubs and service agencies in Windsor and Essex County was held. At the meeting it was decided to establish a formal organization.
On April 8, 1973, the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County was officially established.
The Multicultural Council hosted regular meetings to address the concerns of ethno-cultural communities, provided guidance and counseling during settlement to Canada, and volunteers to assist with translation and interpretation.
In June 1974 a $3,500 grant from the Ministry of Culture and Recreation supported the Multicultural Council’s inaugural Multicultural Festival at the riverfront. The following year, with co-operation from the Freedom Festival, a bazaar was held at the Cleary Auditorium featuring fourteen ethnic food booths together with a large exhibit of cultural artefacts.
In 1976, the Ontario Government announced a new cultural grants program. Formal planning expanded the annual festival to include multiple ethno-cultural villages. Two weekends in June were designated to celebrate Windsor’s diversity. On June 18, 1976 began a long-standing and popular tradition known as the Carrousel of Nations festival.
Over time, the Multicultural Council modified its services enhancing core programs such as cultural perseveration. Current programs, such as Settlement and Integration, Language and Skills, Translation and Interpretation, Health and Wellness, Education, Diversity, and Special Events, offers services to Windsor’s newcomers and the community at large. The goal remains to embrace our mission to create a welcoming community for all through education, community engagement, and the promotion of diversity and equality for all residents of Windsor and Essex County.
- 1995 Harmony Ribbon Campaign introduced. The Harmony Ribbon is worn as a visible symbol of mutual respect and understanding that we have for one another and as a sign of our desire to live in a community that is free from racism and discrimination.
- 2002 Carrousel by the River – in conjunction with the Organization of American States
- Partnership with the Actifest 98 Committee -Ontario Senior Games
- Windsor Board of Education and St. Clair College Heritage Week
- Several Presentations, Program and Workshops to students in the city and county
- Concerts with Ernie Gerenda & Windsor Community Concert Band
- International Police Chiefs Association passport to the World Conference
- Dance Workshops under auspices of the Ontario Folk Arts Council
- 2005 Pan Am Games – Opening and Closing Ceremonies
- 2005 Champion Award is established celebrating significant contribution first generation Canadians make to our community
- 2006 Super Bowl 1X
- 2008 Rotary International Peace Summit
- 2008 Ontario Special Olympics
- 2009 Olympic Torch Relay
- 2012 – Launch of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy- partnership between MCC and OHRC
- 2013 International Children’s Games and Passport to the World
- 2014 – 40th Anniversary of the MCC celebrated by warding 40 community partners with Community Partnership Appreciation Award at the Open House
- 2016 – Business Excellence Award Finalist – Pillars of the Community
- 2017 – Business Excellence Award Finalist Finalist – Pillars of the Community
- 1997 a new member agency of the United Way
- 1998 Government of Ontario Award for Outstanding Achievement in Human Rights
- 2000 City of Windsor Mayors Award of Excellence in the Arts for Outstanding Arts Organization
- 2000 – Annual Award for Contributions for Heartcare’s Success
- 2001 United Nations Accreditation
- 2001 United Way Faces of Generosity Award
- 2002 recipient from the Community event honouring the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray
- 2003 Queen Elizabeth Jubilee award to Kathleen Thomas, Executive Director
- 2005 Certificate of Appreciation – Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, the University of Western Ontario
- 2008 Government of Ontario Award of Distinction for Victims
- 2008 – 2017 Festival and Events Ontario Top 100 Festival – Carrousel of the Nations
- 2009 Best Souvenir Award for Ontario (Carrousel of the Nations- Carrousel Cookbook)
- 2011 Top 8th Favourite Festival in Ontario and the 28th in Canada (Carrousel of the Nations)
- 2011 Ontario Tourism Award Top 3 Finalist as the Best Marketing Campaign – Carrousel of the Nations
- 2011 West Jet – Carrousel of the Nations awarded the 8th Favourite Festival in Ontario and the 28th Favourite Festival in Canada
- 2012 Community Health Promotion Award for Outstanding Non-Profit at the Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association’s (BANA)
- 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to Kathleen Thomas, Executive Director
- 2013 Carrousel Chairs presentation of Award of Excellence to the MCC 2013 – Ontario
- 2013 Carrousel of the Nations – 5th Top Festival in Canada and the 2nd Favorite Festival in Ontario by West Jet
- 2014 Tourism Award – Top 3 Finalist for the Best Marketing Campaign – Carrousel 2013
- 2014 Festival Events and Ontario – Best Marketing Campaign Carrousel 2013
- 2014 Festival Events and Ontario – Best Sponsor Liquid Wild Carrousel 2013
- 2014 Festival Events and Ontario – Volunteer of the Year Award – Cameron Payne, Carrousel 2013
- 2016 Jean Foster Welcoming Community Award
- 2016 Carrousel of the Nations – Ontario’s Choice Award for Top Festival Attraction in Ontario
- 2017 Clark Award by University of Windsor
- 2018 Festival and Events Ontario – Top 100 Festival & Events in Ontario (11th consecutive year)
- 2018 Festival and Events Ontario – Best Promotional Campaign for Carrousel of the Nations
- 2018 Carousel of the Nations – Best Local Festival Award (Food and Drink) by Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island