Mariely Acevedo puts the finishing touches on a Arepas during the annual Taste of Home event Saturday night at Main Street Centre. Carli Berry/Capital News

Venezuela immigrant in Kelowna plans to take Canadian culture home

Mariely Acevedo says she will visit her home country when Maduro is no longer president

An immigrant from Venezuela, who made her home in Kelowna, says she will return to her country and bring elements of Canadian culture with her once Nicolas Madoura is no longer president.

Mariely Acevedo moved to Kelowna a year ago, and spent Saturday night making Arepas, a popular Venezuela dish as part of the annual Taste of Home event, which highlights different cultures in the Central Okanagan.

“I came with my husband, I moved out of my country (because of the) political problems. I decided to go to South Korea to live for two years,” she said.

READ MORE: Freeland says Venezuela’s Maduro is now a dictator after illegitimate win

She decided to start a life with her husband and upon researching warmer places in Canada, they settled on Kelowna.

“I cannot live in Toronto, it’s too cold,” she said.

Her family is still in Venezuela, including her two siblings.

“I am here, but my heart and my mind are in Venezuela because today is a big day where we still protest… I believe we’ll be free soon,” she said.

Massive protests were held in Venezuela’s capital last Saturday, opposing Madoura’s rule.

“I’m not with Madoura, my president is Juan Guaidó right now.” Guaidó was self-declared interim president in January and is supported by Canada.

Canada has condemned Venezuela’s current president, as Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said his inauguration Jan. 10, calling the election “illegitimate and anti-democratic.”

Canada has also imposed sanctions on officials in the regime.

Approximately 3 million people have fled the country since 2015, due to political and economic issues.

“It is important because I like to share my culture with people and bring Venezuelan culture to Canada and I’m so proud to be here,” she said, adding she appreciates Canada’s cultural events, as it allows people to develop empathy for immigrants.

RELATED: Canada to host Venezuela summit to support anti-Maduro forces

“We need that right now. We need this kind of humility in the world.”

Acevedo said she’s been learning about Canada’s education system, business planning and the lifestyle.

She wants to bring that education to Venezuela to help its children thrive and plans to go back once Madoura is no longer president.

Taste of Home has been held in Kelowna for the last 15 years, as part of Global Citizen Events.

“When immigrants come here they miss the smell and taste of home, so it’s a way of celebrating those flavours and essence for people for those communities and it’s also a way for people to learn a little bit about them,” said Dorothee Birker, communications and development coordinator with Kelowna Community Resources, which hosted the event Saturday night.

“We have more immigrants coming all the time, our community is becoming more diverse and it’s great to be able to celebrate the different cultures,” she said.

The event wrapped up Saturday night at the Main Street Centre.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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