Creighton Celebrates Culture Days

By: Shelley Fayant April, 2017

When Culture Days was launched across Canada in 2010 as a way to get more Canadians engaged in the arts and cultural life of their communities, the town of Creighton, Saskatchewan knew immediately that it had to be involved.

“We jumped at the chance,” says Channa Senyk, who works for the Town of Creighton in the recreation area. “We saw an irresistible opportunity to not only take part in a Canada-wide celebration, but to also support, promote and showcase our local artists.”

The town also saw Culture Days as a way to honour its history as a mining town. “Back in the 1940s, people from all over moved to our area to find jobs in the mine, resulting in our town’s rich diversity,” she says. “Participating in Culture Days seemed like a great way to keep our town’s history alive.”

The community went all out with dozens of activities – from multicultural pavilions with foods, crafts and music, to storytellers in period costumes at the museum. Finding space to host all of the activities in the small community proved to be a challenge, but a decision to delay putting in the rink’s ice saved both the day and the community’s inaugural Culture Days weekend. It was a huge success and thousands of people from the community and surrounding area participated.

“Of course we were operating under the belief that Culture Days was a one-time event,” Senyk chuckles. “So when we learned that it was actually going to be an annual event, we knew we had to come up with some creative solutions to be able to take part on an ongoing basis.”

One of those solutions was to form partnerships with neighbouring communities like Denare Beach and Flin Flon, Manitoba, which shares the provincial border with Creighton. “This expanded the opportunities in so many ways, such as boosting the number of people to help with the planning, as well as increasing the options for venue space,” states Senyk.

Another creative solution was to invite organizations outside the arts and cultural community, like the local business and sports communities, to play a part in the weekend. They are now all enthusiastic supporters of the initiative. For instance, the Flin Flon Bombers, the local junior hockey team, has been a regular Culture Days activity organizer, sharing the team’s history with participants, as well as hosting pick-up hockey games. On the business front, many businesses offer discounts to Culture Days celebrants who flash their “Culture Days Passports”, a fun way to track cultural activity throughout the weekend. At the end of Culture Days, people can then enter their filled-out passports to win prizes donated by the local business community.

"Participating in Culture Days seemed like a great way to keep our town's history alive."

The Culture Days weekend has continued to grow steadily in Creighton and area, and is now one of the most anticipated cultural events of the year. “We place an emphasis on school programming so that children and youth have the opportunity to engage in a cultural activity,” says Senyk. She estimates that in 2016, nearly 6,000 people participated in their Culture Days weekend, while another 600 volunteered.

This success means new challenges: “The biggest issue we have now is that there are so many activities happening throughout the weekend, that people simply can’t go to all of them.”