A Lasting Legacy: Building Support for Cultural Activity in the North

By: Scott Stelmaschuk July, 2021

Dozens of Northern Saskatchewan youth participated in Culture Days in 2020 thanks to the Culture Days Community Legacy Pilot Project. The project offered youth the opportunity to learn traditional cultural activities, such as beading, making moose-hide gauntlets and drum making from online workshops created by cultural leaders in the North.

SaskCulture introduced the project in partnership with the Northern Sport, Culture and Recreation District (NSCRD) with the goal of engaging more northern people and communities in the Culture Days initiative, while demonstrating the benefits of participating in organized cultural activity, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We worked closely with the NSCRD to develop the project to ensure that it reflected the needs and realities of the District and its residents,” explains Shelley Fayant, communications consultant, SaskCulture. The funding support provided, thanks to Sask Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture, and Recreation, enabled the NSCRD to take the lead role in the promotion and delivery of the project.

Proposals for participation from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB) and the community of Ile a La Crosse were chosen. The workshops in LLRIB led participants through the process to bead keychains and dreamcatchers, as well as making moose hide gauntlets. These activities shared the rich knowledge of Cree culture and traditions with approximately 78 participants over the course of the project.

Ile a La Crosse offered a hand drum-making class as a limited, in-person event with an online component for others to join. Community Elders led participants through the process of making traditional hand drums, sharing stories and explaining the traditional significance of the drum. The class was held weekly, starting on July 20, and continued until the drums were finished.

Both events were well received and attended. They proved to be successful in helping to identify, create, and build an impactful cultural program within the Northern district. The creation of the Lac La Ronge videos, in particular, have left a valuable cultural resource that can be shared and re-used in the years ahead. SaskCulture’s partnership enabled supplies for participants to be provided, while also allowing the videos to be created and saved for future use.

The Culture Days – Community Legacy Pilot project has served as a valuable step in SaskCulture’s objective to help facilitate more impactful cultural programming in the North, and has succeeded in building lasting working relationships with valuable contacts that can help SaskCulture deliver on this objective reliably for the foreseeable future.