Arts

All questions of identity aside, it’s time to celebrate Canadian culture

Kyle Darbyson | Fulcrum Contributor

THE THIRD ANNUAL Culture Days weekend will engage Canadian communities of varying sizes and compositions from Sept. 28–30.

The celebration invites Canadians everywhere to its many exhibits and activities of visual arts, theatre, music, dance, digital media, and everything in between. The people behind Culture Days have no shortage of imagination or ambition, having organized about 1,600 events across the country.

The City of Ottawa alone will host more than 100 different events, such as a pottery handbuilding class at the Nepean Visual Arts Centre and an Afro-Caribbean dance workshop at the Cultural Arts Studio School of Caribbean Dance. This is only the tip of the iceberg; a full list of events can be viewed online.

Despite the fact that many of these activities occupy some of Ottawa’s most prestigious venues, the organizers of Culture Days have no intention of making this an exclusive affair.

“Our goal is to organize an event that allows for free access,” says Warren Garrett, chair of the Ontario Culture Days volunteer task force. “Without the need for tickets and passes, we realized that we could include people from all walks of life, regardless of education or income bracket.”

Garrett emphasizes it’s a celebration that will explore all the different facets of Canada.

“We hope to create a national spotlight that will highlight the diversity of the people of our land, whether they be French, English, Indigenous or whatever else,” he says.

While shedding light on Canada’s cultural diversity is a socially progressive way to promote discussion, it also raises questions about our collective national identity. How do these activities and events fit into our definition of what it means to be Canadian?

Some believe that Canadians have simply adopted or borrowed the majority of our cultural traits from our European ancestors and neighbours to the south, and feel that we lack a truly unique Canadian culture.

University of Ottawa international economics and development student Ashley Flynn echoes a familiar sentiment of cultural uncertainty.

“People are justified in thinking like that,” says Flynn. “Even though I could name off a ton of Canadian writers, artists, poets, and other icons, I often ask myself, ‘What ties it all together?’”

U of O English major Kyle Climans is unsure of the definition of an overarching Canadian culture, but settles on a well-known idea.

“Canadian culture, as I’ve always seen it, is very inclusive,” says Climans. “It’s more of a multi-faceted mosaic, as opposed to an assimilative American melting pot.”

Regardless of this potential identity crisis, the goal of Culture Days is not to enforce a specific idea of what Canadian culture is supposed to be. With so many diverse events on display, organizers are happy to provide the people of Canada with their own blank canvas and brush—tools that will allow them to draw their own conclusions about what constitutes culture in the Great White North.