Sunday, October 4, 2015

2015 Alberta Culture Days events in Pincher Creek

Toni Lucas

Alberta Culture Days was held on Friday, September 25 in Pincher Creek .  There were a wide range of events showcasing some of the artistic and cultural experiences available in the area. Organized by the Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library with the cooperative efforts of Pincher Creek Allied Arts and the Napi Friendship Association, the event had a programme that focused on visual arts, music, storytelling, and the Blackfoot culture. Each segment of the itinerary was an exploration of sights, sounds, imagination, and sharing. The day was made possible by a grant from Alberta Culture and Tourism.

Chloe had a great time with her mom
Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library Community Outreach Coordinator Sahra Hancock explained that all events were free to attend, and family oriented. With a full day of programming there was much to see and do. During the opening ceremonies there were greetings from MD Reeve Brian Hammond and Town Councillor Lorne Jackson. Ceremonies were opened by Elder William Big Bull, with stories from Margaret Plain Eagle, Wilfred Yellow Wings and Barbara Yellow Wings. The Wandering Tribe Drum Troupe performed and accompanied the Piikani Elementary School Dance Troupe.  "They were phenomenal it was amazing to see these kids and the skill and dedication they have learning the dances and the ways of their culture," said Hancock.

Kyle Blood acted as Emcee during parts of the day, telling stories and explaining about the dances and the costuming. "To me, I consider it a huge success just having as much youth participation, to me this has been a great day," said Hancock. "It all seemed to have worked, and everyone is having fun." Well attended by all ages there was a large number of young families and children in attendance at many of the events. One of the challenges faced by everyone was the heat. The coordinators planned for all kinds of inclement weather, but a beautiful day that reached 27 degrees was not expected.

Cherylanne and Chloe playing string game
The day started before the opening ceremonies with pre-schoolers doing music together at the Lutheran Church and volunteers setting up venues.

Blackfoot linguist William Big Bull
The drop-in Blackfoot Language class hosted by William Big Bull explored how the missionaries represented in written form the native languages, particularly Blackfoot. Encountering verbal sounds they had not previously heard with European languages these missionaries had to develop a new syllabarium to represent those sounds. Big Bull grew up with Niitsitaposin as his first language in the home and would like to see a wider range of fluency return, as he has observed it is rarely spoken as a first language or even as a fluent second language anymore. "Culture, our culture, is preserved in our language."

Napi's Jason Plain Eagle demonstrating traditional Blackfoot games
Napi Friendship Association Cultural Coordinator Jason Plain Eagle shared a number of traditional action games. Plain Eagle has over fifty games he has ready to play and chose four for the group: Double ball, hoop and arrow, chase the hoop, and a capture game played with string. Many of these games developed skills essential for hunting such as hand eye coordination and tracking. The string game taught logic skills, teamwork and partnership while being fun for all ages and abilities to try. Plain Eagle said he was taught that the concept of team sports was developed on this continent. Team sports developed closer community ties, encouraged excellence, were useful at gatherings to make friends and contests, and developed cooperative skills essential to hunting parties.

Hoop Dancer Sandra Lamouche
Sandra Lamouche is a world celebrated Hoop Dancer who sits on the UNESCO International Dance Council. She talked about the healing power of dance, how dance was used in native and worldwide culture, and how it has personally influenced her health, life and creativity. Watching her dance, she is a vision of movement who is capable of telling stories without a word.

Artists Diana Calder and James Palmer
The Art in the Library opening reception in the evening showcased artworks of James Palmer, Diana Calder, and Elaine Steinke. This is the third installment of Art in the Library, which continues to showcase local artists. Palmer and Calder said how much they appreciated having an additional public place to showcase their work. Elaine Steinke could not attend, but her artwork is also on display, through December. Hancock said the Art in the Library program will continue and they are looking for submissions for 2016 programs. She shared she would like to feature photography and watercolours in upcoming shows, and invited the public to view local artists at the library and at the Lebel Mansion, the home of the Allied Arts Council in Pincher Creek.

Hancock wanted to express her gratitude to everyone who participated in the day and helped make it a success. From volunteers that put up tents and tipi's, to those that took on a program, to artists and performers, and those who attended. "We got a lot of partnerships, to make it work. Everyone put a ton of energy into this, and making it work. I would love to build on this." Hancock said in the future she would like to include more cultural programming including heritage, pioneer, and Filipino culture.

 Jaylen and Easton  play the string capture game

Part of art display at library

Playing traditional stickball game

Toni Lucas photos

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