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Monday 16 May 2011

Celebrating Culture

If you picked up a copy of The Telegram today (May 16th) you will read all about some guys climbing Icebergs, new development for the West end of St. John's, a suggestion of new funding structure for municipalities(I'll talk about this in a couple of weeks when the report is released), but more importantly there's a short piece on page three that warrants a closer look.

The piece is titled "Culture comes to the fair," and it covers the activities at a regional Heritage Fair at MacDonald Drive Jr. High in St. John's. The theme was "All in a days work" and it sounds like it was a roaring success. There were students with videos and displays of various cultural and heritage activities in NL. This was the last of eight heritage fairs in the province, and the success of this last one despite the loss of a sponsor, indicates the level of interest in heritage issues in NL youth. We need more of this stuff!

We are slowly loosing some of the basic skills that were once part of our everyday lives. It is understandable that some activities begin to slip away if we don't use them, but I strongly believe that we should be preserving and celebrating these traditional skills. Can you knit/darn a pair of vamps? Bake bread from scratch? Hook a rug? Mend a net? Tell a yarn? Play an instrument? Pip a squid or split a cod? If you can't, wouldn't you like to be able to learn?

We still have people in NL who are very gifted at traditional activities and we need to develop some kind of cultural heritage institute to preserve and teach the activities that helped form our province. Luckily there are aspects of our culture built into the school curriculum, but there could be more. Both in school and for those adults who might be interested. And we do have a few really great programs like this one for wooden boat building that I would love to do!

We need to really celebrate who we are and where we come from, and one great way to do that is to teach others! What would you like to learn?

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