Thunder Bay

Tale of A Town tells story of Thunder Bay, Ontario as part of Culture Days

Tale of A Town is part of an oral history project which collects individual stories and turns them into a multi-media presentation for the entire community to share and enjoy. It's one of the events taking place during Culture Days in Thunder Bay, September 29 to October 1.

Fall Pow Wow at Fort William First Nation and Open Streets on Court Street also part of weekend event

Neta Jeffery, the artistic producer of Tale of A Town, says the oral history project uses art to help people share their experiences, and build empathy. The Thunder Bay production is being performed four times Saturday September 29. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

"The history that doesn't get written down in textbooks or articles," will be on display Saturday as part of Culture Days in Thunder Bay, Ont. 

The national oral history program, Tales of A Town, collects stories from a wide variety of people in the community, and then weaves those experiences together in a multi-media production for everyone to enjoy.

"It's the story of each community, the history that doesn't get written down in textbooks or articles. It's the history that's experienced by each person who lives in the community, and only they know those stories," says Neta Jeffery, the program's artistic producer.

"It sparks other people's memories and they think 'I'd forgotten about that business but I do remember it, my Mom used to take me there when I was young', and it brings us closer together as a community."

Neta Jeffery (left) and Michael Sobota examine Threading Water by Thunder Bay artist Betty Carpick. It's part of the Great Art for Great Lakes project and is on display at Mariner's Hall at the waterfront. It was unveiled during the 2017 Culture Days launch. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

It's also essential that people hear stories that aren't immediately familiar or recognizable, she said.

"It builds empathy and you realize other people have had a different experience in the community than you have, and you hear that story in their own voice, presented in a way that's visual and engaging and imaginative and it sparks your own imagination, and allows you to think what it might be like to be someone else in your own community," said Jeffery.

One of the stories is being turned into a puppet play, and describes what happened, years ago, when a 15-year-old girl was offered the chance to drive a friend's car.

It's important to remember, said Jeffery, that the girl had no driver's license and had never been behind the wheel before.

"Puts her foot on the accelerator and crashes the car and thought she'd gotten away with it too, until apparently it was on the front page of the newspaper the next day!," said Jeffery.

All stories available on interactive map of Canada

After the stories are performed in Thunder Bay, they will all be uploaded onto an interactive map on the Tale of a Town website. "You can click anywhere in the country, zoom into any community we've visited and hear stories specifically from that community," she said.

Tale of A Town will be performed Saturday at The HUB Bazaar at 507 Victoria Avenue East.

Kristy Boucher, the communications officer and executive assistant to the chief of Fort William First Nation says attending the Fall Pow Wow in the community on Saturday is an excellent way to experience Indigenous culture. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

Fall Pow Wow at Fort William First Nation

People can also learn more about Indigenous culture, at Saturday's Fall Pow Wow at Fort William First Nation.

"It's really coincidental that our Pow Wow was being hosted the same time as Culture Days," said Kristy Boucher, the communications officer and executive assistant to the chief of the community.

The Pow Wow features the pageantry of The Grand Entry with its dancers and drums, but the work of other artists, including beading, furs and sewing will also be on display.

This year, the event is also featuring a stew and bannock cook-off. 

Open Streets on Court Street

As well, Open Streets, where the road is closed to vehicles but open to walkers and cyclists, will be happening Sunday on Court Street. It features random acts of poetry, guided walking tours and a performance from DJ Shub.

More than 40 free activities, all open to the general public, are taking place during Culture Days in Thunder Bay, from September 29 to October 1. However, some activities can only accommodate a limited number of participants, or require pre-registration.

The entire list of Culture Day activities, can be found at thunderbay.ca/culturedays

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