Circus Arts a Big Hit in the North

By: Shaunna Grandish December, 2018

The Northern Saskatchewan International Children’s Festival partnered with ‘Circus and Magic Partnership’ (CAMP) to bring The Northern Circus Camp to youth who might otherwise not be given the opportunity to try circus arts first-hand.

CAMP is a popular and successful program originally created in Winnipeg that connected underserved and at-risk youth with arts activities. Kindergarten to grade 5 students from Pinehouse Elementary school in Pinehouse, located a few hours north of Saskatoon, took part in learning the craft of circus arts over a course of a week this past March. This program received funding from the Cameco Creative Kids Northern Cultural Fund.

The Northern Circus Camp included different professional circus and arts activities, such as: juggling, stilt walking, hula hooping, flower sticks and unicycling. Twelve artists spent time in the community and worked with the children throughout the week. The 167 participating students tried different activities and by mid-week they chose which one they would like to perform in front of an audience. On the last day, students presented a performance for family and community members that demonstrated some of the skills that they learned.

“The kids gain so much confidence in themselves through circus arts. They realize things that are fun are also challenging, as are things in life.” ~ Blayne Bird

“The show was amazing,” says Blayne Bird, who was a juggler and unicycle performer, was one of the circus arts instructors who spent the week teaching the children the art of circus magic.

According to Bird, the kids received the opportunity to discover new skills that they otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to learn. “The kids loved learning new skills. Different skills meant a different challenge for the kids,” he adds.

The circus equipment was left in the community after the program ended, so students could continue to improve their skills. An after school circus club was created for the students who are interested in continuing circus skills. A teacher was also trained on how to safely use and maintain the equipment, in order to ensure that it remains accessible to the students.


“The kids gain so much confidence in themselves through circus arts. They realize things that are fun are also challenging, as are things in life,” Bird adds. “Circus arts also brings out a different side of the children as it’s fun and not competitive.”

Jane Laxdall, grade 4 teacher, Pinehouse elementary school, agrees and says that the circus camp was a great experience for the kids. “Many of the kids learned that they can do all sort of skills. All of the kids were in the final show. They all had a part and choose the skill that they were going to work on,” she explains. “All the parents and teachers came out for the final performance. The room was packed and it was really great to see they kids do really amazing things.”

Laxdall continues, “Some of the kids have different challenges in school and it was great to see them becoming leaders and the ones who can do amazing things like walk on the highest stilts. Some of the children commented that it was the most fun they ever had at school. It was so nice to see adults and children having fun all day long.”

Cameco provided $90,000 over three years to the Creative Kids Northern Cultural Fund. The fund continues to help northern Saskatchewan communities start or expand artistic and cultural programs. The fund is administered through SaskCulture.