A photo of the Many Red Dresses exhibit, which recognized Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, that was part of the Nuit Blanche Saskatoon festival during Culture Days.

Supporting Truth and Reconciliation: Culture Days encourages communities to host Truth and Reconciliation activities

June, 2023

Over 10,000 people from across Saskatchewan took the opportunity to learn more about Truth and Reconciliation, as part of 2022 Culture Days activities held on September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (NDTR).

Since 2010, Culture Days, a Canada-wide celebration of arts and culture, has enabled SaskCulture to promote the wide diversity of cultural activity in the province, in a large awareness campaign each year. In 2022, Culture Days in Saskatchewan took place September 23-October 16, offering well over 41,200 participants the opportunity to engage in over 259 free, interactive cultural activities hosted by over 27 local arts and cultural groups in communities throughout the province. With the inclusion of both in-person and virtual activities, participation tops over 100,000 participants in Saskatchewan according to national statistics.

"Culture Days is a national cultural celebration, so shining the spotlight exclusively on Truth and Reconciliation-focused events gives people throughout the country an accessible and meaningful opportunity to learn about and better understand the many impacts of residential schools," says Shelley Fayant, outreach consultant, SaskCulture. Fayant served on the Culture Days National Organizing Committee for the past seven years.

SaskCulture has offered the Culture Days Hub Sponsorship for the past three years to help communities support Culture Days activities. In order to encourage more Truth and Reconciliation activities, the criteria for the Hub Sponsorship was modified in 2022. Many communities, including Prince Albert, Melfort, Porcupine Plains and Oxbow, jumped on the opportunity to include Truth and Reconciliation in their Culture Days celebrations.

While the Hub Sponsorship continued to offer organizers support for a wide range of Culture Days activities, Fayant says, the new focus helped some communities take the first step toward Truth and Reconciliation. "SaskCulture prioritized applications with a NDTR focus to help engage communities in Truth and Reconciliation while offering guidance to ensure events were respectful, meaningful and involved First Nations and Métis people in the planning to center their voices and experiences in the day’s activities.”

Treena Mohrbutter, community development officer, Town of Oxbow, was eager for her community to learn more about Truth and Reconciliation. She says, the town’s Reconciliation Reflection Walk event was a huge success thanks to the guidance and involvement of Elder Angie McArthur-Delorme, from White Bear First Nations. Thanks to the Hub Sponsorship, Mohrbutter took the opportunity to reach out and partner with the First Nations community nearby. She was able to learn more about meaningful Truth and Reconciliation activities. “Elder Angie was just so awesome and kind. She told me you can’t reconcile until you know what you’re reconciling. We begin to do that by building bridges and relationships and understanding each other, explains Mohrbutter. "We shared our intentions and objectives and then got to work putting things into motion.”