Cultural Coordinators: Making a Difference in Their Districts
The District cultural coordinators are hard at work connecting their communities to cultural activities. Harmony Johnson-Harder is the Program Manager for Culture and Community Development for the Northern Sport, Culture and Recreation District (NSCRD). Throughout the year, she works on several projects that connect youth living in northern Saskatchewan to cultural activities so they can build valuable leadership skills.
NSCRD’s biggest project is the Northern Spirits project, which involves the District inviting 75 Northern youth, who are interested in music, to participate in a three-day workshop to learn performance and producing skills. Afterwards, 25 of those youth are selected to work together and produce a showcase of their work.
“Some of the Northern Spirits alumni have said that the skills they gained from Northern Spirits have contributed to their success as young adults,” says Johnson-Harder. ”Adults have commented that youth who have attended Northern Spirits come back with a new level of confidence that they’ve never seen before. They take on more leadership roles within their school and communities because they have this confidence now.”
The District also hosts the Northern Drama project in partnership with the Saskatchewan Drama Association (SDA). Students from northern schools work on plays coordinated by the SDA. The project wraps up each year with the youth showcasing their talent in the Northern Drama Festival.
“The North is full of culture. We cannot even tap into all the different levels of cultural programming happening in the North, but the [District] is very supportive of all initiatives and invites communities to connect with us to further develop,” she notes.
Aileen Martin started as the community consultant at the Prairie Central District for Sport, Culture and Recreation (PCDSCR) a mere six months ago. Although Martin has been at her position for only a short time, she says she’s already seen a great up-take in the programs in and around her District, where there appears to be a large interest in cultural activities.
“I wish there was a way to shout it from the roof tops to let everyone know about all the cool stuff our District and Saskatchewan has to offer,” exclaims Martin.
Over the past year, the PCDSCR held many culturally-focused activities, which included: hosting a volunteer session on how to engage different generations at Manitou Beach (this took place during a blizzard so guests also were able to attend to an Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils concert at the famous Danceland Hall); offering community engagement development programs that helped Bulyea start up an afterschool ‘Artsy Fartsy Kids Club’, where local artists come together to teach elementary school students about the different kinds of art; and inviting the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan to its “Hometown” Annual Cultural gathering to come and speak about its Welcoming and Inclusive Communities project.
The District also recently partnered with the Elbow Museum and Historical Society to hold a Kairos Blanket Exercise that saw a turnout of 29 participants. “All the attendees were so grateful that we brought it to the area. I hope activities like the Kairos Blanket Exercise get theconversion started with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action,” notes Martin.
She goes on to add, “We just need to plant a few seeds to start cultural activity growing in our rural communities.”
District Culture Coordinators, which exist in the Northern and Prairie Central Districts, continue to be instrumental in supporting a wide range of cultural experiences in Saskatchewan. The Districts for Sport, Culture and Recreation receive funding from the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation.