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Huntsville has a vibrant arts and culture community – you don’t have to look far to find artworks, artists and cultural assets. Nonetheless, it’s a treat to have them highlighted in an easily accessible way which is why the annual national Culture Days celebration is such a natural fit for our town.
Held this year from September 30 through October 2 in communities across Canada, Culture Days offers a variety of free, mostly interactive activities. In Huntsville, that includes everything from artists in Main Street store windows to a drop-in knit-along to a journal reading by the ghost of Tom Thomson to a behind-the-scenes artifact tour at Muskoka Heritage Place.
The Kairos Blanket Exercise
Perhaps one of the most intriguing and educational activities this year is the Kairos Blanket Exercise. It’s an interactive activity that leads participants through 500 years of Indigenous history in one-and-a-half hours. A visual and experiential exercise using blankets which represent the land, it shows how First Nations, Inuit and Métis people lost access to their land and what impact it continues to have on the people and their communities. Today, reserves comprise just half a per cent of Canada’s land mass.
“The Blanket Exercise offers participants a glimpse into Canada’s true historical past and sheds light on the complex and shameful relationship between European colonizers and Indigenous Peoples,” says facilitator Holly Groome who is also an Aboriginal Curriculum Consultant for the Muskoka Education Centre. “By actively participating in the roleplay activity, Canadians gain a rich and full understanding of the historical governmental decisions that have led to a breakdown in this relationship and see their personal role in the collective movement towards reconciliation. It is emotionally moving, intellectually challenging and promotes active citizenship at its best.”
The exercise will be held in River Mill Park (the Algonquin Theatre is the rain location) on September 30 from 11am-1pm.
“It’s going to be very educational and also a lot of fun,” says Teri Souter, Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage for the Town of Huntsville. “It’s a non-confrontational, easy-to-understand exercise. All of us are here on Anishinaabe land. In order to understand our culture, we need to understand its foundation which is ecologically and spiritually based in the culture of the original people. We have lots of narrative accounts of early settlers here who would not have survived without the generosity of spirit of the First Nations people.”
Get a sneak peek at what you can expect in this video (opens in a new window):
Participate or host your own activity
More activities continue to be added to the Culture Days offerings in Huntsville – keep checking the Culture Days website for updates (search Huntsville to find those that are local) and if you have an activity that you’d like to present you can do that, too. There’s a self-registration option on the Culture Days website here or contact local Culture Days co-ordinator Pam MacKenzie at email@example.com.
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