Culture Week took place in Weyburn and across Canada during the last week of September. Also known as Culture Days, the event's purpose is to increase awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement by all Canadians in cultural activities in their communities.
The local celebration of Culture Days has gained momentum in its second year, with plenty of multi-cultural events having taken place in Weyburn.
On September 24, the City of Weyburn and Weyburn Arts Council offered free Aboriginal Art workshops to Grades 4 and 5 students from four different schools. The workshops took place at Signal Hill Arts Centre and were facilitated by a Cree Chipewyan freelance writer, artist and storyteller, Carol Morin of Regina Beach.
"There were about 100 students for that," said Alice Neufeld, Arts and Culture Director for the City of Weyburn. "They did rock painting and basket painting; they listened to aboriginal singing and storytelling about the Great Spirit, and she did an explanation of drums and songs."
Two different workshops took place on September 28, which were offered to the public at no charge. Seventy participants of all ages attended either an Aboriginal Art workshop or a Clay Workshop, which provided people with an opportunity to get a feel for either medium. The clay workshop was facilitated by Goodwater potter, Darlene Martin.
On the 29 and 30, the Sun Country Kids Club presented a trade show, complete with on-stage entertainment throughout the two days. More than 500 people of all ages attended.
Vendors sold everything from ethnic foods to hand-carved wooden sculptures and other original products. Several local organizations also had tables, including the Weyburn Multicultural Society, the Soo Line Historical Museum, the Weyburn Arts Council, Weyburn Public Library, Crocus 80 Theatre and more.
The entertainment was non-stop and included a youth talent show as well as a multicultural fashion show. Greg Johnson 'Tornado Hunter' gave a full lecture about his self-created career as a storm chaser. Representatives from Ocean Man First Nations were in attendance, offered a table of wares and a number of aboriginal dances. More than 50 people also attended Ocean Man's Dream Catcher Workshop.
Since variety is the spice of life, Weyburn has a flavourful community of residents that reflect the multicultural picture of Canada. Canadians not only share this great land with those who have always been here, but we are also known for welcoming those from other lands.
A number of immigrant performers took to the stage as part of the entertainment for Culture Days. Sarah Regines, who has been part of the community of Weyburn for three years, sang solo as well as with a group of other musicians from the Philippines.
Regines chose to share a song of personal significance to her, explaining to the audience that it is one that she sings to her children when she talks with them via Skype. Regines' three children, ages five, eight and thirteen, have been kept back in the Philippines due to immigration issues. She considers it a test of patience to be a mother separated from her children by time and oceans, but in the meantime, Regines does her best to share her gift of music.
"I take my guitar to the nursing homes and sing for the residents," said Regines. "It's my way of sharing. When I do that, I feel like I am singing to my mother back home."
It is important for everyone to use their talents to enrich the lives of others and immigrants often find refuge in doing so. However, it isn't always easy for newcomers to know how to get involved in the community.
Kam Teo, Librarian at Weyburn Public Library, said that he has made it the library's mandate to work more closely with newcomers and new immigrants.
"There is no actual public space that is going out of its way to make it specific to newcomers," Teo said. He added that in light of the exponential economic growth of our city, which has allowed for an increase in newcomers from across the globe, the library is a natural community centre.
"We must be very explicit in making the public library more welcoming," he said. "I've been taking the advice of the newcomers and I've been trying to bring in more programs that are newcomer-specific as well."
The Weyburn Public Library was in full participation for the two-day cultural event, including contributing leftover funds from the multicultural events held at the library in the spring.
Shannon Seitz, Executive Director for Sun Country Kids Club, said that overall the event was a success.
"We are really happy with the turnout," said Seitz. "We look forward to an even bigger event next year."
The Weyburn Culture Days event sponsors are Sask Culture, Sask Lotteries and the the Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration.