Marian Donnelly, Culture Days Saskatchewan Coordinator, began this session by saying, “This is the largest turn-out for the smallest population.” The hamlet of Livelong has a population of 95 and there were 16 at the meeting.
We met at the Community Complex and there were representatives from LADRA, the lake community (Turtle Lake), as well as Livelong.
This was a good get together. Numerous significant issues were discussed that I think apply to other communities (in regards to Culture Days activities), so I’d like to share them.
The crux of the discussion, as I see it, revolved around the notion that Culture Days activities have to be “new” and have be “Art”.
I got the impression that some of the people in attendance were discouraged from participating in Culture Days because the thought of creating something new was too much of a burden on their already taxed resources. They were tired of having to be the instigators, the organizers, and the cheerleaders of the majority of their community’s events and endeavours. I couldn’t agree more. It’s draining to always be drawing on the kind of energy it takes to create ‘new’ community events.
So why do it? Why create something new when you don’t need to?
Culture Days is about celebrating our pre-existing culture. It’s the stuff that we do every day that we don’t even think about as being special that requires highlighting and celebrating. Basically, we are ‘doing’ culture all the time.
Bearing that in mind, we rephrased the question: instead of asking “What could you do for Culture Days?” We asked, “What do you do anyways in the fall around that time?” (That would be appropriate for Culture Days). And the list was endless. Responses included activities involving harvest and farming, horses, lake culture, as well as canning and food-ways.
Alongside the notion that Culture Days activities had to be new was the perennial misconception of “Art.” Everyone has their own definition of art, however, I think there is still (to make a sweeping generalization) a bias towards thinking that art is paintings in a gallery (per se). So, let me share with you my definition of art:
“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks and the way you feel. Life is art.”
Bearing these two understandings in mind, Livelong did decide on a Culture Days Activity.
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