Saskatoon's Wanuskewin Heritage Park will be holding its first Culture Week this year to bring people together through First Nations culture, a spokesperson said.

"This is a very divisive time," Andrew McDonald said during an interview on CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

'What a great way to kind of bridge those gaps.' - Andrew McDonald 

Wanuskewin typically holds a powwow, but the Culture Week will offer more participatory events to get people immersed in First Nations culture, he said.

"It is … opening your mind to different ways that First Nations people were connected to the land, and how you can get an understanding of that.

"This is getting your hands dirty, this is getting shoulder-to-shoulder with your neighbours, and this is really participating in these different activities."

Andrew McDonald

Andrew McDonald, sales and marketing manager at Wanuskewin Heritage Park near Saskatoon, says the Culture Week activities are meant to bring people together in a 'very divisive time.' (CBC)

The decision also comes with the rise in popularity of powwows across Saskatchewan and a desire by the park to try something different, McDonald said.

"What a great way to kind of bridge those gaps and to be able to just kind of create an understanding and build community."

Wanuskewin to look skyward, too

The four-day showcase of First Nations and Métis culture begins next week and features a variety of workshops and events, everything from hide scraping and smoking demonstrations to traditional fish netting and making moccasins. Some of the workshops require that people register in advance.

There is another big event on Monday, the solar eclipse, and Wanuskewin will not ignore it.

"We are going to be having a viewing there we are going to have a telescope with a lens on it," McDonald said.

"In addition to that, the FSIN [Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations] is going to be bringing their digital planetarium. This is a giant planetarium that you can crawl inside and learn about those constellation stories."

A Cree storyteller will offer a traditional view of the stars. 

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story said the decision not to hold a powwow was partly motivated by racial tensions. In fact, the Culture Week was inspired by a desire to offer a more immersive, participatory series of events.
    Aug 18, 2017 4:43 PM CT
with files from Saskatoon Morning