We did it! Our final celebration at the Carving Pavilion was a special culmination of a year-long journey. We spent the morning cleaning out the Pavilion, opening the doors and moving the Canoe with a team of helpers. It felt somewhat ceremonial to make the space inviting, and inviting it was – we laid out a spread of smoked salmon, meats, cheeses, fruit and veggies, juice and coffee, and created a cozy seating area where people could relax and eat. We welcomed participants from the Elders Healthy Choices group as well as our faithful programmer Ellen, and some members of the public who weren’t sure what they had stumbled in on, but were glad they did!
Ronnie gave a beautiful slideshow presentation with visual word clouds of all the ideas collected from community since July 2016. It was good to look back on the myriad conversations we’d had within the Britannia community, and also to reflect on our relationship built, and to thank each other for the patience, dedication and openness required to work together and complete this project. Then the Movement Workshop participants, including many of the seniors, showed their piece – a creative and courageous bunch to experiment with a loop station! They put their voices and gestures out to the world, gifting back the poetry we’d collected from other community members and adding their own interpretations. I was very proud of what we accomplished together in a short period of time. We were sad to say goodbye at the end of the day.
This has been a real learning experience for me, one I am very grateful for. It has deepened my understanding of working within and alongside a community and also alongside a collaborator. A collaboration has its own life and is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Ronnie and I each approached this Artist-in-Community residency with our own understandings of what it meant and over the course of the year something new developed that neither of us would have imagined. It was challenging at times, especially working within a framework in which we were not only accountable to each other but to an external structure. It involved a great deal of letting go and coming back to what really mattered again and again. Although we intentionally set out NOT to make this project a project about reconciliation, it was – and I heard Ronnie say this too – an experience of what reconciliation can mean when put into practice. As my understanding grows I learn more and more what I don’t yet understand, I become more humble and receptive. I also gain a better sense of what I have to offer and become more confident in offering it.
So, as we put the lid on this Box of Light, I am thanking all the people who supported us in this project, and in particular all of the community members who shared their stories, words, dreams, and experiences with us over the course of the year. If we think of each life as a box of light, each of them has added some glow to mine. This is the glitter that remains!