Prince Albert Voice
After such a cold beginning to February it was wonderful to have a break from the extreme weather with the arrival of the Prince Albert Winter Festival. This year celebrated the 55th anniversary of the festival and included some old favourite events, such as the Country North Show and the Bonfire/fish fry, as well as the ever changing Kid Zone events and the Craft and Trade show. Some of my personal favourite festival features included the jigging competitions, the fireworks and the snow sculptures standing throughout the city. The sculptures can still be seen by visiting various sites including the tourism centre, the Alfred Jenkin’s Centre, and other locations such as the North Gate Mall’s south parking lot. It was nice to see new ideas introduced at this year’s festival that included more of the community, such as WinterScapes. I’m hoping to see this contest continue next year and more people can plan and participate in this event. I was also inspired by a weekend event I missed in Waskesiu a few weekends ago. There were workshops offered to the public that included beading, Moose hair tufting, finger weaving and more. It makes me wonder if these kinds of workshops could be held during our winter festival and how much interest there could be if they were available? Please let me know and I will pass on interest to the festival planners for next year. If you missed this year’s PA festival, the La Ronge Winter Festival begins March 1-10, 2019 and is sure to be just as entertaining and enjoyable as Prince Albert’s just was.
I met Shannon Kelly at a workshop for Métis entrepreneurs who were interested in growing their business. And that is where I learned about her magazine for women entitled Vintage Gipsy. In case you’ve never heard of Shannon, I’m sure you will be hearing it often soon so, let me introduce you. Born in North Battleford, Shannon has lived in Prince Albert for over ten years. She’s a busy mom with strong cultural roots to her Mètis roots. In addition to the magazine, she also volunteers quite a bit of her time to our community, using workshops and other teaching opportunities to help bridge the gap between the non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal community. A writer from childhood, Shannon writes daily because she is a “lover of the written word. Writing for me is a healing journey. The paper always listens.” With no one to inspire her magazine idea, Shannon decided to pursue her passion for writing.
Jennifer Brown is a local Métis woman who has lived in Prince Albert all of her life but whose roots date back to the historical Métis Red River settlement. The daughter of Mervyn and AnnaLou, Jennifer’s interest in art began with the encouragement of her mother, who provided her with many outlets to let her creative energy soar. Her dad would then take her sketches and inventions and proudly show them off to others. Surrounded by artists most of her life, Jennifer had the opportunity to attend a conference in Vancouver where she met a lady from Manitoba who taught her to bead. “It became a quick obsession”, Jennifer explains, “I draw the image and the beads were the colour. At first I was making moss bags because it was something I could do with my mom; I would do the beading and she would do the sewing for me.” What a wonderful way for two generations to connect and work towards rebuilding lost traditions. And a third generation benefitted when Jennifer was able to make a moss bag for her newborn niece.
Occasionally I’m fortunate enough that my life journey crosses paths with someone who touches others on a more personal level beyond just the way they affect me… it’s a life changing and deeply insightful moment which, when you look back, you know it will impact the way you think for a very long time. That is the case with me upon meeting Dakota Favel. Now, I’m not going to say I am a die-hard groupie fan; far from it. In fact, I took it upon myself to keep him humble with sarcastic one liners that poked fun at his music/voice and, thankfully, he accepted my humour and ribbing with a big smile and quick witted responses that always provided comedic relief when we needed it most.
I can’t admit to being a sports enthusiast by any means however, I do enjoy watching the journey of Janessa Keays over the last number of years as she makes a name for herself in the sport of Judo. A quick Google search of her name will give you an idea of her success as a competitor in Judo, “a sport of unarmed combat that uses balance, holds and throws” says Janessa as she describes her technique. Born and raised in Prince Albert, this beautiful teenager has been quietly making a name for herself at Judo tournaments, earning medals at competitions in Saskatchewan, western Canada, Quebec and England. For Janessa, the medals are a bonus to gaining new experiences and making life long friendships. Ultimately though, her goal is to keep improving so that she qualifies for larger tournaments with the end goal of competing for Canada at the Olympic Games.