Mexican family honours COVID-19 victims through Day of the Dead altar in High River

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“What we’ve done is adapting to the situation and sticking to the things we do have so the show can go on,” Vigueras says.

Despite the pandemic, the group stays positive as it has learned to thrive in difficult times.

In fact, the group was founded during the devastating High River flood of 2013, which made Vigueras’ family and the town’s Mexican community relocate for a few months. In the challenge, she saw an opportunity.

“We wanted to create a long-term activity that created inclusion and kept the community focused on something positive,” Vigueras says.

The Mexican folklore dance group, IRERI-Smiles at an event in Airdrie, Alta. In September, 2020. Photo by Leah Hennel photo

But more than anything, she wanted the Mexican community to feel represented.

“Before our dance group, we never had any interaction or felt part of the High River community,” she says.

“All of this was new to me because I arrived in Canada when I was four,” adds Myriam Vazquez, now 16 years old. “However, I enjoyed learning from my culture, and I’m really proud to be Mexican.”

After receiving positive response from the public, the group began performing at a growing number of venues, including hospitals, home care facilities, and women shelters in the Foothills area.

“We do this to bring joy to those who are going through a hard time, even if it’s just for a few minutes,” Vazquez says.

The family, in partnership with High River businesses and the High River Arts Foundation, will be hosting a Day of the Dead festival through to Nov. 7, which includes an art exhibit, a sugar skull icing decoration workshop at Albright Design and a closing gala dinner by El Papalote restaurant at the Heritage Inn High River. More information is available at https://www.thevenuehighriver.com/ .

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