On a gorgeous sunny day in July, Ronnie and I were given a tour of the Britannia complex by Arts and Culture Programmer Ellen Dacamara. It was exciting to see everything that goes on here and what a labyrinthine hub of activity Britannia is – a city unto itself! Clearly, what I’ve known of Britannia has only been the barest glimmer of the full spectrum that exists. Having been getting to know the Downtown Eastside community in depth for the last six years, it’s a little overwhelming to imagine getting to know Britannia in the year and a half we have for our residency. This is why having people like Ellen and all of the fantastic folks who run programs, teach, learn, cook, make art, skate, and otherwise contribute to Britannia will be invaluable in showing us what this community is all about – which will in turn help us understand what role our artistic work has here.
The Napier greenway ushered us in with its canopy of trees and welcoming spots to sit and chat, eat, write, or drum:
We were shown garden spaces where youth cultivate connection to the land (and taters):
We were introduced to Michelle at the Senior’s Centre who welcomed us to lead a session sometime, and Emma and Barry at the Teen Drop-In Centre, who invited us to come to the Tuesday cooking program in the fall. We were also toured through the beloved Outreach and Education Centre, an alternative education program for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth grades 10 – 12.
We walked through windy, long-shadowed spaces that invited running and dancing…
…and we stepped over the threshold of the Carving Pavilion, a beautiful structure that smelled of pine and spoke of sacred geometry. There was already an artist collaboration at work here: carver-in-residence James Harry and mixed-media artist Lauren Brevner. Glimpsing how their work activated the space was inspiring as I imagined site-specific dance and poetry in the Pavilion.
Finally, we digested everything we’d seen and heard in the late afternoon sun, another layer deeper into the Box of Light that is Britannia…
Stay tuned for our next adventures in the fall!