Heavy rain and wind didn't stop the P.E.I. Hip Hop Association from holding an arts and cultural event at King Square Park in Charlottetown on Saturday afternoon to raise money and awareness for both CNIB and the Salvation Army.
The group wanted to hold an event that could be an all-ages annual fundraiser. They also wanted the community to celebrate diversity through the hip hop culture.
Hip Hop in the Park was held as a part of Culture Days, which celebrates arts and culture from all over the world.
Hip hoppers from tip to tip on P.E.I. arrived to see what fellow Islanders could bring to the table. B-boys and dancers from Halifax travelled to take part in the show, and some local graffiti artists sprayed designs onto sheets of plywood.
A barbeque was held and donations were collected in support of the Salvation Army and to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
About 40 people attended the event in King Square Park.
The event was hosted by hip hop artist MDB, of Moncton. He also performed his video single called “Blind Man.”
Mark Valiquette and his friend Dan Bingley, both from the Charlottetown area, decided to do something in the park for hip hop and culture days. Valiquette was thrilled to get the CNIB on board because of MDB being half blind and a hip hop artist.
Valiquette said it was also important to him to be able to get the Salvation Army involved because there has not been much attention given to the organization in a while. A drop-box was set up at the event where non-perishable items could be donated to the Salvation Army.
“We are trying to gather food for them too because no one gives too much to them. That's why we picked them, I go to the food bank every other month too like a lot of people, and they always give. We wanted to give back. We are just trying to get people to realize that there is a hip hop community here on P.E.I., ” he said.
About 30 non-perishable food items were donated to the Salvation Army and over $100 dollars was raised for the CNIB.
A family from Australia visiting the Island found the event listing online Saturday morning and decided to check out the hip hop scene on P.E.I. The two daughters dance in hip hop classes in Australia and enjoy the hip hop culture and vibes.
"We are just trying to get people to realize that there is a hip hop community here on P.E.I.," - Mark Valiquette, event organizer
The eldest daughter, Bonnie Kirkpatrick, said she and her sister dance with a group called MnB Entertainment, which stands for Michel and Bessy Entertainment, founded in 1994.
“Michel is from the Congo in Africa and Bessy is from El Salvador and they teach us all different styles. They teach us street styles and and jumping and popping and stuff like that,” Kirkpatrick said,
“I want to see what it is all about. Dance is universal so seeing how it differs from what we would learn is cool. I'm really looking forward to seeing the dance. It is such a fun way to express yourself and just let it out,” she said as a couple of beatboxers gathered to get the show started.
Valiquette and Bingley have been exploring hip hop for many years and have been attending and organizing small events all over the Island. The association is new this year and everyone involved decided to throw their differences aside and to get the ball rolling.
“We just wanted it done for the better on P.E.I. They do it all over Canada, there are hip hop communities in every city, in Toronto, Halifax does it, they all have their own scenes so why not here. Its time that some of us kids who grew up in this town gave back, it brings people together, even on a rainy day,” he said.
The event was completely free except for any food purchased from the barbeque. Valiquette said Sterns Launderers and Drycleaners in Charlottetown was very helpful by lending the association a tarp to shield visitors from the rain. Sterns also stored some of their equipment so it would not get damaged.
There will be a show hosted by the association at the Sport Page in Charlottetown on Saturday night. There will be a few live performances from rappers, Djs, and two live battles. For more information on the P.E.I. Hip Hop Association or these events visit www.peihha.com.