SaskScapes – Urban Canvas

Saskatoon Community Youth Arts Programming (SCYAP) offers a unique employment experience known as URBAN CANVAS. After an hiatus period, Urban Canvas is back with massive support from the city of Saskatoon and the province of Saskatchewan. At-risk youth learn the vital skills to propel them forward in life using art and culture as a tool. Kevin Power is joined by past participants who are now instructors at SCYAP, as well as current participants. Together they share the personal impact this program has on their lives. At  the end of the podcast you’ll hear part of a speech given by SCYAP’s executive director Darrell Lechman (heard last season in Episode 30). Darrell spoke at the opening exhibit and media launch of Urban Canvas held at the SCYAP gallery on November 20, 2015. An impressive crowd including Saskatoon Mayor Don Aitchison, members of the Saskatoon Fire Department, Police Department, and many more.


SaskScapes is a podcast featuring the stories of arts, culture and heritage in Saskatchewan. The series is produced and hosted by Kevin Power.  Visit Click on the Community Engagement Animateur link to view the work being done by all three of the SaskCulture CEA’s.

Host: Kevin Power

Music provided by Jeffery Straker

SaskScapes is also available through the iTunes Store on Stitcher Radio and TuneIn RadioSaskScapes now has its own app for both apple and android devices available in the iTunes store and Google Play.

Follow SaskScapes on Twitter @saskscapes

Follow Kevin Power on Twitter @kevinpowerlive

Pioneer Women Project

A group of people in Weyburn is raising funds for a sculpture of a pioneer woman.

As part of this project, the Committee, made up of Jan Linnell, Mayvis Goranson and M. Isabelle Butters, is encouraging people to share stories of Saskatchewan pioneer women. Two schools in Weyburn invited me to help turn their students’ narratives into digital stories. Grade 5 students at Assiniboia Park Elementary School were given the assignment to write about a pioneer woman travelling through time to the present day or to imagine a person from the year 2014 traveling back in time to pioneer days. The students wrote scripts, collected photos and produced imaginative digital stories that included a lot of references to Wal-Mart, cell phones, girls wearing pants, electricity, melting snow for water and general stores.

Later in the week, I visited Souris School and worked with 11 grade 5 students. Each had been given the assignment to interview a woman at a seniors’ home. The students brainstormed questions as a class and took a day trip to one of the local seniors’ homes, where they met women “as young as 94 years old,” as one student put it. After finding out what life was like for some of the seniors, the students took photos, wrote scripts and produced digital stories.

On the day that I was at Souris School, a couple of women from the Pioneer Woman Sculpture Committee and interested seniors visited the school to see what the students were up to. The students explained their projects to the seniors, who were impressed with the students’ creativity, dedication to the project, and their technical skills.

For more information about the Pioneer Woman Sculpture Project, please contact:

Ross McMurtry: 306-848-0444 Stan Runne: 306-842-5864 or Leo Leydon: 306-842-2595

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Flying Kites in Biggar

My Facebook Post for September 22 reads as follows:

“That awesome feeling when you teach sixty-three kids how to make their own kite, then go outside and listen to their squeals and watch their smiles as they fly those kites.”


First thing in the morning I had a workshop with the Grade One class at St. Gabriel’s School in Biggar.  There were twenty students and we had an hour to assemble our kites.

My knowledge from a previous Culture Days Activity–the Windscape Kite Festival in Swift Current–came in handy. I had the parts pre-cut and ready to go, and I had the confidence of two days of kite-making behind me.

Next, I did a workshop with forty-three students from Biggar Central School.  Because they were an older group of students I included them in the process a bit more.  No pre-cut parts for them.  I gave them templates to trace as well as ribbon and string to cut.  We still had an hour to assemble to the kites, so it was a bit more intense considering the size of the group and the added workload.  But, just like the Grade One class of St. Gabriel’s this group of Grades Four and Five assembled their kites in a little over the allotted time.

While the kids finished up I took a lunch break.

When I returned to the school my chaperone and I walked in the direction of a large field that connects the two schools, which is hidden behind a hill.

As we walked up the hill I heard the students before I saw them–squeals of delight, laughter, running, and play.

I rushed to the top and was thrilled to see sixty-three students enjoying the simple pleasure of flying a kite (and, indeed, most of the kites did take flight).

Some of the students were running and laughing out loud, while others stood still and enjoyed the experience in silence with grin.

Either way, it was an enjoyable afternoon.  And the students learnt how much fun can be had with a little string, ribbon, a plastic bag, and a couple of sticks.

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The Intricacies of a Knit-In

On a superficial level, a ‘knit-in’ may look like nothing more than a group of (predominantly, but not necessarily) women sitting around clicking needles and playing with yarn.

But, it is so much more.

On a practical level, it is cultural transmission. It is the passing of tradition from one generation to another.  For instance, at the last ‘Knit North Battleford’ get-together there was an intergenerational group of three knitting in the corner–mother teaching daughter, teaching daughter.

On yet another level, equally intangible, is a transmission of knowledge.  People talk about what is going on around town or upcoming events.  They as well talk about things like health and nutrition.

But, on another level is the quintessence of ‘Knit-Ins’ (in my opinion).  It is the gathering of people, who are often strangers, who for no other reason than a common interest have come together for an hour or two, and share their time, their stories, their humour, their life.

A woman who is a recent newly wed and pregnant for the first time may be sitting in the same circle with another woman who has multiple children and is widowed or separated after thirty-some years of marriage.  A shy person may come and take comfort in the company of others without the imposition of speech.  A new immigrant may come because the gathering offers solace to his or her solitary new environment … and so on.

Bearing this in mind, I feel it is a real success when I hear of Culture Days endeavours like the ‘Knit North Battleford’ Group who have been asked to meet in venues above and beyond their already pre-scheduled locations.  Further, that they are discussing meeting after the Culture Days weekend.





The Wolf Clan Mother Mosaic is Installed

Well, the ceramic tile mosaic of the Wolf Clan Mother is installed on Muskoday First Nation.

But, it never would have happened without the help and endurance of Jay Kimball and Shannon Smith.

Shannon spent two days inserting all the necessary tiny tile pieces into the spots that were missing tile–a job coveted by very few. Plus, she helped polish for the better part of an afternoon. Additionally, Jay Kimball agreed to a very long day of travelling, grouting, polishing, and installing on the powwow grounds.

The mosaic will be celebrated with a ceremony on the Saturday of Culture Days Weekend.  But, in truth, the mosaic will  be celebrated for years to come when people gather for ceremony and tradition on Muskoday First Nation’s Powwow Grounds.


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Making Mixed Media Sculpture at the SCC

Typically, when I facilitate a workshop there is some structure. There is an example of what we are going to make. There are pre made parts.  There are steps to the process that I go through (one by one)…. There is an end goal.

But, this time, at the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s Mixed Media Sculpture Workshop, which was held in conjunction with the Broadway Street Festival on September 6, there was none of that.

When people entered the Affinity Gallery and approached the table, they were invited to create whatever they liked.  I would list all the fun materials they could play with (beads, wire, yarn, feathers, etc.), and I would list some potential possibilities (jewellery, architectural sculptures, wall hangings, etc.).  But, in the end people were encourage to “just create.”

And what a success that was.  People did just that.  They created.

Perhaps it was the inspirational artwork in the gallery, or the excitement of the festival, or maybe it was just people’s inherent creative nature that came through, but I didn’t hear once (out of approximately 120 participants) “I don’t know what to make.”

Considering that creativity is one of the ‘tag lines’ of Culture Days (“Create, Participate, & Celebrate”) I think more credence needs to be given to this type of ‘creation.’  True, it’s comfortable to go to a workshop where there is structure and an expected end result.  But, it is also extremely important to “Create for Creation’s Sake.”  It’s important to trust the process of uninhibited creativity.  Some of the most important inventions have come out of this kind of play and experimentation.  So I was happy to see us engage in and practice this type of creativity. photo-83 photo-84 photo-85 photo-80 photo-81

Knittin’ in the Mall

Another group that is using knitting as a means of participating in Culture Days is a collective in North Battleford.

There are several ‘Knitting Circles’ scheduled during the month of September in various public locations around the city.  One such locale is the Co-Op Mall.  A group of 13 knitters gathered on September 4th for a couple hours and began their knitting contribution. Like the Waldheim Knitters (mentioned in the previous post), this group of knitters plans on meeting in Central Park on Saturday, September 27 to yarn bomb some trees and lamp posts.

But, before the big installation the group will meet several times, as they did on September 4th, and prepare their knitted pieces.

I have to admit, there was something amusing and inspiring about walking into a mall and seeing a group of knitters creating and visiting.  It was such a juxtaposition between what I consider a domestic, cozy, intimate, solitary practice and the sterile, public environment of a mall.  When I came around the corner and saw the group of knitters the space was instantly transformed.  It changed from a place of business and aloof transaction into a warm, friendly place.  Further, it morphed from a space of commerce and consumption to a giving place of hand-made production.

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Update on the Waldheim YarnBombers

I stopped in to see how the Waldheim Yarnbombers are doing, and things are progressing.

Some of the students continued to knit during the summer and are ready to start stitching their pieces to the trees at the front of the school.  Other students were newcomers.  They came to our gathering for the first time and learnt how to knit and/or crochet, and are eager to create pieces for their yarn-bombed tree.

I selected my spot that I’ll be yarn-bombing, and am eager to install it on the morning of September 16th.

I was told by Wendy (the organizer of our group) that CTV is coming to the school on that day to report on the first phase of our installation–how exciting!  It will be good publicity for the school and their participation in Culture Days.


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Intergenerational Collage

The Care Home in Paradise Hill invited me to facilitate an activity that would involve the Residents as well as a family member (preferably a Grandchild, since Grandparents Day is just around the corner).

I suggested we do a collage using various mediums as well as at least one family photo.

Not only did the Residents supply more than one photo, many of them had more than one Grandchild in attendance.  And some had a Great-Grandchild to assist in our endeavour.

After a brief demonstration on how they could incorporate meaningful text from books, pressed flowers, fabric, and photos into their collage the participants of the workshop quickly got to work.

As I went around to visit, offer assistance, and admire their creativity, it was clear the activity was bringing to the foreground many stories that may have been dormant. For instance, in one collage I noticed the duo had placed a page from the dictionary in the background and then layered many cut out images of cowboys over top.  When I enquired about it, the Resident’s Great-Granddaughter explained me to that they had chosen the word ‘challenge’ on that page as their theme.  When I asked, “why?” she further explained that her Great-Grandfather had told her he found it a great challenge to get on his horse at 93, but he did it anyways…..  And there was the photo (in the foreground of the collage) to prove it.

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The Philosophical Aspects of a Fabric Mosaic

On August 23 I facilitated a Kids Craft for St. Walburg’s Blueberry Festival.

I had prepared the ingredients for a blue fabric mosaic and set up as a drop-in activity at the four corner stop on Main Street.

There’s something about these community based art activities that reminds me of Confucian sayings about society and self-governance or the Taoist concept of wu wei.  They remind me of sayings like, “the less the king does, the more gets done.”

What I mean by this is that there is a place and need for all types of workers, artists, at such endeavours.  If you provide the supplies and give a brief instruction (or better yet, show by example) kids of various ages come up and participate in their own way.  Some will come and sit down and focus on an entire section until it’s complete, regardless of the time it takes to finish the task. They like to having a designated and working alone. There are those who don’t like to start the project but like to follow behind the steadfast starters and fix.  They will (in this case) remove excess glue, trim fabric, straighten pieces.  There are rogues, of course.  Those that come in all jacked up on festival sugars, who are loud and obnoxious and don’t follow any of the rules.  And while I used be bothered by the drive-by contributors, I have (with time) come to understand their place too.  Now I see that if I just calmly bide my time, the rogues never last longer than five minutes, their errors ignite the fixers enthusiasm, and they break the monotony of the steadfast starters pace.

I have come to understand on a visceral level that indeed if there is a calm center around which kids of all ages can come and work in their own way (without being told how to operate) there is some sort of organic governance that occurs and everything functions smoothly.  The project gets done because everyone works in their own inherent fashion, and naturally there is a worker for every job and job for every worker.

Basically, these community based art projects are indicative of the idioms regarding the significance of the individual parts contributing to thephoto-56 photo-57 photo-58 photo-59 whole.