Mexican family pays tribute to COVID-19 victims on Day of the Dead

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“What we did was adapt to the situation and stick with what we have to keep the show going,” Vigueras says.

Despite the pandemic, the group remains positive as they have learned to thrive in difficult times.

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

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

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

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

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

“This was all new to me because I came to Canada at the age of four,” adds Myriam Vazquez, now 16. “However, I enjoyed learning about my culture and I’m really proud to be Mexican.”

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

“We do this to bring joy to those who are going through a difficult time, even if it is only 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 November 7, which includes an art exhibit, a sugar skull icing decorating workshop at Albright Design and a closing gala dinner at the El Papalote Restaurant at the Heritage Inn High River. More information is available at https://www.thevenuehighriver.com/.

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