Kristin Catherwood, Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer
As the nation readies itself to recognize Canada 150, we here at Heritage Saskatchewan are preparing to launch a video series on July 1st which explores the rich and diverse living heritage of this province. Every two weeks until the end of 2017, a new video will be released.
The idea for the series was borne out of our desire at Heritage Saskatchewan to share stories of heritage from around the province. My work is focused primarily on community engagement, and so I do a lot of travelling throughout Saskatchewan. I meet a lot of people, and I hear a lot of stories. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the incredible diversity of this province of ours. When I say diversity, I don’t just mean the many different cultural backgrounds of the people that call this province home. We have a diversity of landscapes here, and those places shape our cultural identities in ways both obvious and subtle. There is a great diversity of perspectives, of worldview, and these differences are just as marked between generations as they are between rural and urban folks, those who live in the northern forest versus those who live in the southern prairie, and those who practise different faiths, customs and traditions.
I have to be honest and say that when I first began this adventure as the province’s itinerant folklorist, I thought I knew a fair bit about Saskatchewan already. I quickly learned that I actually know very little about my province and my fellow Saskatchewanians. It was this realization that cemented the idea to recognize Canada 150 by showing what Saskatchewan heritage means through the voices of people across the province. Canada 150 itself was the inspiration for this project, but is not the focus of these videos. However, you will hear from some people who do not see the country’s sesquicentennial as something to celebrate. Canada 150 is one of those commemorative years which asks us to stop and consider what got us to “here,” and where we should go next. It reminds us to accept hard truths about history and encourages us to use these lessons to build a better future for everyone who calls this country home. It invites us to consider our place in the world, in this country, and in this province and to acknowledge how the past has shaped who we are.
It is impossible to do justice to the incredible diversity and complexity of our living heritage in one video series alone. The videos we will be showing for the next six months in no way represent the totality of the cultural heritage of Saskatchewan. These are just a few stories - my attempt to begin to share the rich heritage of this province through my travels. I have done my best to represent different geographical regions of the province (as far west and north as La Loche, and as far south and east as North Portal, and many places in-between), and to hear from people of many cultural backgrounds. I wanted to hear from both older generations, and from young people, some of whom were surprised to consider themselves as people who had anything “heritage-like” to talk about.
But we all have living heritage. It shapes our daily lives and serves as the foundation of our identities. I want to thank all the the people who generously contributed their thoughts and experiences to this video project. I invite you to return to Heritage Saskatchewan’s website often, to engage with us on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you don’t miss any of these videos.