This weekend a lot of Canadians rejoiced in the cultural mecca that is this nation by participating in some 7,000 free activities in 850 communities.
Creatively named Culture Days, the annual event celebrates, well, culture in its many forms – artistic, ethnic, regional, social – with events across the country. “Creative people” — artists, historians, architects, and designers — volunteer their time and skills and invite “non-creatives” behind the scenes to participate in such activities as bookbinding workshops, honeybee apiary tours, Bollywood dance classes, poetry slams, and West African drumming circles.
The mission is to get Canadians to “make culture a daily habit.” Here’s the thing, though: It already is. As the wild assortment of activities that were offered this weekend indicates, culture is everywhere, all the time, and is (almost) anything you say it is.
We’ve come a long way since Canadian culture meant the novels of Lucy Maud Montgomery or dressing up to go see some play featuring British twits in tuxedos. And thank heavens and the Canada Council for that. Now maybe it’s time to broaden the definition yet further. Stop thinking in terms of creatives and non-creatives and acknowledge that everyone’s a creator in some way. Making a cake? Creative. Choosing just the right stencil for your living room wall? Creative too.
And we experience art everywhere too, sometimes purposeful, sometimes accidental, whether it’s that giant lobster in the town square (I’m talking about you Sediac, New Brunswick) or the sea of bobbing umbrellas along the sidewalk when it’s pissing buckets (welcome to autumn, West Coast). Tattoos and body piercings, wild foods and farmers markets, it’s all arts and culture, baby, so acknowledge it, embrace it and never complain that you live in a place devoid of it. It may not always be culture that appeals to you (ahem, hockey), but it’s the real thing, all day, every day.