Page 1

s t r e n g t h + c r e a t i v i t y n o w = t o m o r r o w ’s p o s s i b i l i t i e s

community

builders

SUMMER • 2020


THE BACK STORY STERKTE,

SISU, SOHKISIWIN what’s your word for

"you’ve got this”?

My friend Rita is part Dutch. We like to laugh and say it’s her “Dutch-ness” that makes her stubborn at times. I will never forget her persistence when we went on our first backcountry camping trip to Tee Harbour, an historical Finnish fishing village on the shores of Lake Superior. Rita’s stickto-it-ness trying to get a fire going using very, very wet wood was impressive. I witnessed her determination again when she tried to open a corked bottle of wine without a corkscrew; she succeeded on both accounts. Call it stubbornness; call it determination; call it strength. In Dutch, it is sterkte. In Finnish, it’s sisu. And in one of the Cree dialects, it is expressed as sohkisiwin (inner strength) or kiyam (“It’s alright”). Rita says her beppe (grandmother) used to say, “Sterkte, Rita!”—“You’ve got this!”—whenever she was blue. Over the past few months we have all needed a certain type of sterkte. These days when I walk my dog, I notice there are more cars on the road, more shops open, and friendly faces on patios. Masks, socially distanced line-

sterkte: strength during difficult times ups snaking outside of stores, signs stating “We’re all in this together” and other measures are still very present. Here in Thunder Bay it feels like there is a little more room to breathe, even if the landscape of how we live and socialize has shifted. For years, Rita and I have discussed trying to find a way to work together on a publication that promotes positivity and creative endeavours. After brainstorming some ideas on a Friday night in April, we registered the website sterkte.ca that same evening and got to work. It can be daunting trying to remain positive during a pandemic, nevermind creating new pieces of art or pursuing new creative projects. In spite of this, we have pulled together our friends, an all-female board of directors, and have reached out to community builders and artists in order to curate content that spans the country.

Sterkte looks to share the diverse stories of Canadians in positive ways. It is a project that began during COVID and has helped us in many different ways to stay not only productive and positive, but connected, and we plan to continue to create beyond the pandemic. We look forward to spreading the word sterkte and its layered meanings, from “You’ve got this!” to wishing strength during difficult times. -TJ


IN THIS ISSUE: Community Building Community Building is the theme of Sterkte's first issue. Our editorial team came together during COVID to connect and create, with each of us bringing our own unique talents and offerings—a small community, bringing a magazine to fruition. The pieces in this issue consider what it means to build community, and how community is supported and nurtured. Featured community builders include: a North Bay-based dancer originally from Colombia, connecting people through dance; a retired Kitsilano architect thinking and designing in the hopes of supporting people experiencing homelessness; a popular music scholar and ethnomusicologist, creating a radio segment for kids with her family in Regina; and an educator sharing his Cree language in fun and engaging ways through social media. We hope you enjoy our first issue. to you all!

I L LU S T R ATO R bob goodall

C O N T R I B U TO R S nancy saunders I marlene wandel tanya gouthro I jessica mccann I sue v


While some of us at Stertke Media hold marginalized identities, our small team is predominantly white and we recognize the privileges that carry over into the work we do daily. As such, it is our responsibility to leverage that privilege to help move this industry towards equitability by promoting and supporting BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ and marginalized members of our community. In our spaces and in making community through Stertke Media, we have no tolerance for racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, or ideologies that are against our belief that all human beings deserve equal rights. We recognize that actions speak louder than any statement we could make. All industries can take action to ensure equity, inclusion and anti-racism in their operations. When we came together to form Sterkte Media we principally acknowledged that we would be a positive forum for BIPOC and LGBQT2S+ lived experiences and stories. That we would stand in solidarity to raise and elevate their voices. This is our responsibility. We welcome all Canadians to submit stories, forms of art, histories, community building ideas and activities to us here: stertkemedia@gmail.com


editor

co - c r e a t o rs

Tiffany Jarva has worked as a lifestyle writer and editor for over 20 years. She has lived across the country, from Yarmouth, NS to North Vancouver, BC. A true northerner, she is now based in her hometown of Thunder Bay where she especially loves to paddle in Edla—a little yellow canoe named for her Finnish grandmother.

creative & sales

Rita Visser lives in Niagara, but is a northern girl at heart. She grew up in rural Thunder Bay, spending her summers on an island in Lake Superior. She loves to share the tale of her grandpa Mel riding a moose. You may find her strumming her guitar along a body of water, designing stuff for her clients, playing with her child, or recording someone's life story as a personal historian.

manager Cheri Moreau calls many places home, but her heart belongs to the prairies. She is an avid cyclist, hiker and anything else that gets her outside! She is a passionate community volunteer, serving on the Board of the Regina Food Bank, the Regina Planning Commission, and White Pony Lodge.

contributing editor Rebekah Skochinski is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Thunder Bay. Before focusing on a career in print media, she used to work in advertising as a writer/producer and had a brief stint on TV. She also writes fiction and has been published in various literary journals. Other passions include dancing flamenco, paddling a canoe, and skiing.

intern

Beckham Thompson is not only a technical guru, he is also a stellar magician and mathematician. The youngest one on our team who keeps us up-to-date on social media, he also keeps us organized, especially at our meetings during technical blips. Beckham has been helping friends and dignitaries on the technical side of life since he was 12 years old.


TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S COVER STORIES

08

IF YOU DESIGN IT FRANKLIN ALLEN

11

HERE & THERE:

TERRY FOX

#CreeSimonSays

12

14 CHARITY MARSH THE DANCE CONNECTION 6 DEGREES OF THUNDER BAY

ON THE COVER

16

HAVING A GOOD DAY

BY GEOFF FARNSWORTH

r o c k. s t a r

18

PATTY HAJDU

ARTISTS WE LOVE

FARNSWORTH knick 22 GEOFF 20 KNACKS SIENNA DAHLEN

CURTIS CAMERON PHOTOGRAPHY

26 WANDER

30 GOING DUTCH

28

24

DIGGING DEEP

REMEMBERING

LINDA STITT

32

POCKETS 33 OF JOY 34 NIGHT OWL VS EA RLY BIRD

MEDIA

Editor Tiffany Jarva

Contributing Editor Rebekah Skochinski

Creative • Sales Rita Visser

Copy Editor Nancy Saunders

The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions of Sterkte Media. Information contained in our published works have been obtained by Sterkte Media from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither Sterkte Media nor its authors guarantees the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein and neither Sterkte Media nor its authors shall be responsible for any errors, omissions, or claims for damages.

Manager Cheri Moreau

Intern Beckam Thompson

Sterkte Media is a non-profit organization dedicated to curating Canadian stories quarterly. For more information contact us at sterktemedia@gmail.com or visit sterktemedia.com


If You Design It by Tiffany Jarva drawings & photos by Franklin Allen

" T h u n d e r B a y, O n t a r i o w r i t e r T i f f a ny J a r va m e t Fra n k l i n a n d N a d i n e A l l e n w h i l e va c a t i o n i n g i n O a xa c a C i t y, M ex i c o . T h e c o n n e c t i o n w a s i m m e d i a t e a n d ro o f t o p conversations often lingered late into the warm breezy evenings. Discussion topics ranged from Trudeaumania and ballet to Mexican art and Oaxaca’s symphony, and then, one evening, to Franklin’s S5 Cart sketches and plans.

Franklin Allen's multifunctional S5cart.

D

uring Spring Break of 2019 I went to Oaxaca City with my dear friend Cheri, and that’s when we met Franklin and Nadine Allen from Vancouver. These COVID days make that trip feel like it took place a lifetime ago. A few weeks

08

before we left on our trip, I watched Alfonso Cuaron’s gorgeously shot, slow-moving and layered film Roma about a year in the life of a live-in housekeeper working for an affluent family in the Mexico City neighbourhood during the early 1970s. I was thrilled to discover that the lead actress is from Oaxaca, and doubly excited


to learn that our small boutique hotel had a rooftop patio similar to the one featured in the film. Many late afternoons found us four Canadians on that rooftop patio with a view of Monte Alban, palm trees swaying and laundry blowing on lines. We shared stories from our daily tourist adventures, then stories from our lives, and it felt like we had known each other for years. That In 2011, Allen received a design patent inspired by five elements: is when I learned about Frank shelter, storage, security, sleeping and self-esteem. Allen’s passion for design and creativity, as well as details about a self-portrait with his son. Back by five elements: shelter, storage, in the office hang Allen’s diving security, sleeping and self-esteem. his S5 Cart. medals, a reminder of years spent His designs reflect conversations Allen lives in an apartment in competitive diving—a sport he has had with people on complex built in 1926 that he he continued until four or five the streets. Since retiring from co-owns with a group of others. years ago, just shy of his 80 th architecture and after some starts In the Kitslano neighbourhood birthday. Pinned to the wall close and stops over the years, Allen of Vancouver, BC, the complex is to the medals are sketches of the has created a plywood mocklocated behind a small city park— S5 Cart, a design Allen started up that he acknowledges is way the same park where Hollywood thinking about when he was too heavy, but does work as he director Robert Altman shot his working as an architect, inspired imagined. The next step, he says, first feature film (That Cold Day in by watching people pushing is to partner with someone to the Park) in 1969. During COVID shopping carts filled with their create a prototype that is much lockdown, Allen and I meet via the belongings around the city. lighter and functional for everyday video chat platform BlueJeans, use. He is quick to admit that with which he takes me on “I thought to myself there must this project is about more than a virtual tour of his apartment be a better way for people than design and creativity, and must using his iPad. We start in his struggling with these carts, and also address how to get municipal second-floor home office that so I started playing around with governments and manufacturers has a lovely view of the spring’s some designs and creativity,” on board. blooming catalpa. His own large- explains Allen. “It was pretty scale paintings adorn many of the sketchy at first, although I think “I don’t think of this as a way to walls throughout his home and making it into a sleeper came solve homelessness,” says Allen. include a mind-bending portrait fairly early on.” In 2011, Allen “It’s more about acknowledging of three huge babies as well as received a design patent inspired that there are people who may

community

building

kitsilano, bc 09


Franklin Allen's mock-up of the S5 cart. need temporary solutions.” He also says it might be a fix for people who find it challenging to live with others and within the modern view of a four wall house. In Vancouver, where the climate is warmer than other regions in Canada and the cost of living is high, it’s not surprising that the homelessness rates are among the highest in the country. The province rolled out its Rapid Response to Homelessness program in 2017, pledging millions of dollars to build and operate at least 2000 modular housing units. As of this April, approximately 1200 units have been completed, which is good news. However, there are still many people without

10

stable housing. When questioned about the S5 Cart as possibly promoting ‘institutionalized’ homelessness, Allen disagrees—he sees the S5 Cart differently. “This is an opportunity to help with selfesteem and a sense of ownership, as well as feeling safe in a secure setting.” Allen envisions workshops on how to assemble, repair, and refurbish the S5 cart. He also suggests cities create designated areas to ‘park’ S5 Carts, such as secure parking garages, or church parking lots in the evenings, similar to Safe Parking programs piloted in both

Portland and Eugene, Oregon, for houseless people living out of their vehicles. A l l e n g r a d u a t e d f ro m t h e University of Idaho in 1960 with a degree in architecture. Upon graduation he worked for firms in Portland and in Cambridge, MA. While in Cambridge he created exhibits for Montreal’s Expo ‘67. He worked as an industrial designer on the interiors of DC10 airplanes in Los Angeles, and then as a designer for the Boston subway system. “I had a lot of fun as a young guy working on these projects.” continued on page 36


HERE & THERE

TERRY FOX MONUMENTS

photo: Tiffany Jarva

THUNDER BAY

VANCOUVER

few kilometres from where Terry Fox had to end his “Marathon of Hope” in 1980 on the Trans-Canada Highway just outside of Thunder Bay, a Terry Fox monument was erected and dedicated to the young hero in 1982. In the ‘90s, the statue was relocated across the highway to what is now a memorial site, national historic site and visitor information centre with a gorgeous view of Lake Superior. The monument features a nine-foot bronze statue created by sculptor Manfred Pervich, set on a 45-tonne granite base with a foundation that features local amethyst.

In addition to designing the interiors of subways, planes and submarines, as well as the concept for the S5 Cart, architect Franklin Allen won the bid in the early ‘80s to design Vancouver’s Terry Fox Memorial. Installed in the square at BC Place Stadium in 1984, the memorial was made of brick, tile, concrete, stainless steel and Plexiglass. “The miracle of Terry Fox was that he was an ordinary young man who turned his response to pain and loss into a triumph of hope and courage,” explains Allen. Allen’s monument was removed in 2010 and replaced in 2011 by a new memorial designed by Gen-Xer Douglas Coupland.

A

images: Franklin Allen

community

building

t h u n d e r b a y, o n • v a n c o u ve r, b c 11


#CreeSimonSays MAKING LANGUAGE LEARNING FUN Simon Bird and his late grandmother. "She was the kindest teacher I ever had."

photo: Simon Bird

I

t started with a Cree language lesson to his then five-yearold daughter when they lived in Alberta and she came home from school counting in the Nakoda language. “I grew up speaking Cree and realized that if my daughter was going to learn Cree, I would have to be the one to teach it to her.” She easily recognized that “may you kiss a cow” was a mnemonic device to remember how to say the Cree word miyo kisikaw (pronounced

community 12

building

“may you geese sih gow”) which translates loosely to “have a nice day” in English. Educator Simon Bird posted his daughter’s strategy on his Facebook page and it was a hit. After being persuaded by friends who said they really appreciated his style of teaching, Bird started a Facebook group called #CreeSimonSays which now has over 17,000 members. “I’m really just trying to roll with it and make the experience of learning Cree fun and non-threatening for

anyone that wants to learn the language.” Bird has consistently been providing fun five-to-fifteen minute lessons, Monday to Friday, all before 7 am. He uses picture clues, videos, games, and more to help engage his diverse group of Cree language learners. Or i g i n a l l y f ro m So u t h e n d , Reindeer Lake, Bird is currently the Director of Education in the

l a c l a ro n g e , s k


"I’m really just trying to roll with it and make the experience of learning Cree fun and non-threatening for anyone that wants to learn the language.” community of Lac La Ronge Indian Band in northern Saskatchewan. “I love teaching and sharing stories,” says Bird. “When I started teaching Cree, I didn’t want to overload anyone. For whatever reason I thought the hashtag would make it more relatable to people. Five years ago, I didn’t even really know what the hashtag did,” he admits, laughing easily. Bird manages to teach effectively by striking a balance between the funny, such as his Cree Star Wars videos, and more touching moments such as how to say nikawiy (“my mother”) and nisakihaw nimama (“I love you, Mom”) just in time for Mother’s Day. Now that he is Director of Education, he says he misses the fun energy and

daily interaction he had with kids as both a principal and teacher. When asked if there’s a Cree equivalent to sterkte , he pauses and thinks. “Maybe kiyam, which can mean a quiet strength, being at peace, kinda shrugging your shoulders, and letting stuff go.”

Simon Bird recently started his PhD in Indigenous Language Revitalization at the University of Victoria. -TJ

13


Imagine

This Music! by Nancy Saunders photos by Evie Ruddy

From back left: Evie Ruddy, Charity Marsh, and Aksel. Front: Ilse

During COVID, they started a radio segment, Imagine This Music!, as a family project.

A

t the beginning of the COVID-19 lock-down, Charity Marsh noticed a new radio program for kids called Imagine This! airing on Regina’s community radio station, 91.3 CJTR. “I heard it and put it on, and thought this is so important right now; this was a really good idea, doing programming Monday to Friday, 9 to 12, specifically directed to children of different ages, and for parents—and not just parents, but people at home

community 14

building

struggling with not knowing what to do … Turning to radio and hearing stories and listening to music—and hearing other kids talk, because they’re not allowed to be around other kids!” Marsh is sensitive to the fact that the COVID-19 experience has been particularly isolating for many children, in ways that adults maybe didn’t realize. “We are all so connected and we’re finding all these wonderful creative ways

to build community and engage with each other, and yet for kids it’s not the same … I reached out immediately to my friend Amber Goodwyn, who manages the station, and asked if they wanted content.” Goodwyn’s response: “Can you do a weekly hour-long show?” Marsh, her two children, and Marsh’s partner Evie Ruddy decided to do their radio segment, Imagine This Music!, as

re g i n a , s k


“it was a way for us to read stories about being empowered, about feeling angry and it being okay, feeling frustrated”- Charity Marsh a family project. Each week they choose a theme and think about how to incorporate music and their own life experiences. Marsh sees their program as a lens of living heritage and ponders what it will mean to her family and to listeners to look back on this time. “I keep thinking about what an incredible record of this time we will have, even five years, ten years, 20 years from now when they’re adults—some of the things we were thinking about; some of the things we were doing.”

talk about the virus and the kids would say, ‘I really wish it wasn’t here’, ‘I’m worried some of my friends will get really sick.’”

Not knowing how long the lockdown would last, Marsh was not sure at the outset how many radio segments they would be creating. “The kids at times really love it, like they’re very performer-based in the microphone etc., and then at other times they’re like, ‘Oh, we have to do it for the radio show?’ Because it’s been two months now, right? Our thought Imagine This Music! helped Marsh was that we’d be doing this for a and her family work through little bit of time, and it just keeps some of the feelings that were going.” Marsh says the show has coming up as a result of the been a significant commitment lock-down. “That was one of the and takes quite a bit of time things I really felt was important to produce each week. After in doing the radio show - it was a considering taking a break over way for us to read stories about the summer, Marsh says they will being empowered, about feeling continue Imagine This Music! in angry and it being okay, feeling part because her eldest daughter frustrated … We also started to didn’t want them to stop.

“Music is a big part of our lives. We make music in the home as a family, we dance together lots,” Marsh explains. She was already involving her kids in her work, bringing them to the Interactive Media and Performance Lab at the University of Regina where she works, and also to band practices. Now she has put them at the forefront, asking them what they want to talk about, what stories they want to read, and involving them in determining the composition of each segment. “We listen together as a family. I always say they did a really good job on the show, I ask them what they liked about the program. It’s something we’ve accomplished together.” Marsh explains that the broader benefits of the show extend beyond providing entertaining programming for children. continued on page 36

15


SIX DEGREES

OF THUNDER BAY Andrea Novoa’s Dance Connection by Rebekah Skochinski photos by Piotr Skowronski

Novoa says what she misses most about Thunder Bay is her former students, but also TacoTime and Definitely Superior Art Gallery - a vibrant and trailblazing art gallery and professional artist-run centre. “It’s a jewel in that city, it’s a very unique place and definitely one of the most amazing things the city has to offer.”

community 16

building

A

ndrea Novoa loves to dance. She also loves to study it, teach it and consider its impact on society. “I think it teaches you a lot about people, and how to deal with others and about what being human means and human connection,” she says. Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Novoa learned merengue and salsa from her mom and her uncle, though it wasn’t until she decided to

pursue post-graduate studies abroad that a real devotion to dance would catch fire. Upon being accepted by New York University to study mathematics, Novoa moved to Las Vegas to live with her mom before beginning school. “When I went to Vegas I decided to audition at this really cool place called Marrakech Vegas, and it seemed like a longshot but I was actually hired and that’s

n o r t h b a y, o n


Dancing Salsa Caleña in the streets of Bogotá how I became a dancer; it was almost accidental.” On ce s h e wa s p e r fo r m i n g regularly as a professional belly dancer, Novoa took on the stage name Dahab, as it is customary for dancers to assign themselves names that represent their culture. Dahab is an Arabic word that means gold, something of cultural significance to Colombia and its legend of El Dorado, the Grand Chief who covered himself in gold dust and submerged himself in Lake Guatavita. “There are a lot

of taboos and misunderstanding around belly dancing so it adds a lot of privacy and protection at a gig when someone asks your name,” she says.

or a question. The kind of math I liked was always very abstract so it’s about trying to find a path to the other side, like a labyrinth, or a puzzle … so with dance I try to find the logical path through the Eventually Novoa would abandon song. If I’m here and I know this, the idea of studying mathematics how do I go one step ahead in a in favour of dancing, though logical way.” the former isn’t something she’s left behind completely. “I feel Novoa’s next step after three years it’s the same brain at work,” she in the city of lights was a move to says. “I think that’s why I like Canada after she met and fell in choreographing, because I always love with cinematographer Piotr say all you’re doing is trying to Skowronski while he was in Las find a logical solution to a problem Vegas for a convention. continued on page 37

17


Patty has been a community builder for decades in her hometown of Thunder Bay through her work and leadership at places like Shelter House, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, and in recent months as Canada's Minister of Health. We think this qualifies her for rock star status.

rock star noun

photo: Paul Field

1. a member of a rock band, especially one with celebrity status. 2. a person who is renowned or revered in their field of accomplishment. 18


F

ull disclosure: I’m close friends with Patty Hajdu, our nation’s Minister of Health, and I’ve really missed her during these strange times. We have managed to touch base on a few occasions over the past few months, most recently at the beginning of July when we spoke old-school style on the phone. I was at my home in Thunder Bay, while Patty was in her guest bunkie, converted into an office, at her place on Lake Superior. Patty is one of the most authentic, compassionate, driven and funny people I know; full of sterkte for sure. It was nice to block out the world for a while and simply catch up on music and books, as well as get her take on community building. WHAT MUSIC ARE YOU LISTENING TO? I’ve been really enjoying playlists streaming on Spotify. I like discovering new musicians and a blend of things like folky remakes of ‘80s songs and new ‘smoky bar’ blues.

WHAT ARE YOU READING THESE DAYS? I am reading a lot of fiction. At the beginning of all of this I was reading pandemic literature like The Plague [the 1947 novel by Nobel Prize-winning French existentialist philosopher, Albert Camus] and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, and then I had to stop. I really love Emily St. John Mandel; thanks for recommending her to me—she’s my new favourite author! I’ve read her books Last Night in Montreal and The Singer’s Gun.

community

building

YOU SOMETIMES WEAR A SISU NECKLACE. WHAT DOES SISU MEAN TO YOU? The sisu necklace is special because it was given to me by you; we've been friends on this journey of life together for more than three decades. To me it means intangible grit you need for everyday life, and during the pandemic it’s been my ‘bat signal’, a special signal of strength, courage and compassion just for me.

W H AT D O E S C O M M U N I T Y BUILDING MEAN TO YOU? I think community builders are the ones who advocate from the ground up, people like Erin Beagle of Roots to Harvest—a woman who never backs down, who stepped into a space super firmly at the beginning of the pandemic to help feed kids and isolated seniors. Across the country, volunteers are collecting donations of PPE [personal protective equipment]. The response of everyday Canadians has been amazing. People like Sharon Johnson who organized the Full Moon Memory Walk in memory of her sister in the mid-’90s, and to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. They are the people who don’t waver, pushing for justice and who steadily keep on going and growing the movement, raising awareness even when it seems pointless. -TJ

t h u n d e r b a y, o n 19


knick KN ACK S

We're not all maple syrup, beavers, and good manners in Canada. Here's a snapshot of a few of our favourite made-in-Canada products from things we're listening to, watching, reading, or simply enjoying.

NANCY: BEAM PAINTS, MANITOULIN ISLAND, ON Beam Paints are high-quality watercolours made from nature in artist Anong Migwans Beam’s home community of Mchigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island. Beam creates vibrant paints in gorgeous paintstones using lightfast pigments, tree sap, Manitoulin honey and gum arabic. Beam also carries beautiful wooden and ceramic paint palettes and other art supplies.

TIFFANY: RETAIL NIGHTMARES PODCAST, VANCOUVER, BC. Jessica Delisle and Alicia Tobin are “co-ghosts” of this fun comedic podcast, bantering about their retail experiences with guests, revealing hilarious and relatable stories as both workers and customers in the retail industry. As a former Vancouverite, I especially appreciate the west coast references. It’s not always appropriate, which makes it feel like I’m hanging out having drinks with my closest friends on my back deck. retailnightmares.com

20

S E R A M T H G I N L I A T RE


REBEKAH: SMALL GAME HUNTING AT THE LOCAL COWARD GUN CLUB, MEGAN GAIL COLES, SAVAGE COVE, NFLD I’ve missed the library terribly and I’m so excited that I can now put holds on and pick up books! Thankfully, at the start of the lockdown, my next-door neighbour Kathi and I started an unofficial Covid book club. Most recently, she loaned me Megan Gail Coles’, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. Yes, it was a Canada Reads contender and shortlisted for The Giller, but I’m utterly charmed by the cover and eager to read a book that takes place on one blizzardy day in Newfoundland in February.

CHERI: AROMA BOREALIS, WHITEHORSE, YK. Green Aid Ointment is a handy dandy healing salve that is my go-to ointment for scrapes and cuts, both those acquired from the bike trails and when I slice open my finger mincing onion. Their Fireweed Fairy Owchi Salve is also great. aromaborealis.com

RITA: BELLE PLAINE’S MALICE, MERCY, GRIEF & WRATH, REGINA, SK

REGINA BASED

SINGER SONGWRITER

BELLE PLAINE

A few months ago I received a surprise gem in the mail from a friend: an autographed copy of Belle Plaine's album Malice, Mercy, Grief & Wrath. This spin introduced me to a subtle, good ol’ country sound. The graphics used throughout the album weave together a whole other narrative—all combined to create a treasured experience from this lovely music maker from the Prairies. belleplainemusic.com/music

Submit your favourite Knick Knack to sterktemedia@gmail.com 21


Artist Geoff Farnsworth in his Montebello Place studio in downtown St.Catharines, Ontario. photo: Kandis Litalien.

ARTISTS WE LOVE

Y

days. “It is symbolic of someone seeing past challenges, moving towards an opportunistic space,” he explains.

Sterkte’s cover art, Farnsworth’s Having a Good Day, was inspired by h i s d a u g ht e r, a n d s e e m s especially relevant during COVID

When the pandemic hit, Farnsworth moved from his studio in a public space to his home studio. “Social distancing meant I started painting just for me. I began by painting people looking at art, and then I felt like painting heads.” Farnsworth says because he was reading so much, he was inspired to paint people from the past and from today, people he knows and people

ou may be familiar with artist Geoff Farnsworth’s work from the cover of Canadian indie band Great Lake Swimmers’ 2018 album The Waves, The Wake, or because his dreamy landscapes and portraits are displayed in homes and art shops across Canada.

GEOFF FARNSWORTH he doesn’t know. As a result of these influences, Farnsworth, in a flurry, created more than three dozen small oil-based portraits of subjects including Japanese writer Mieko Kawakami, American satirist Kurt Vonnegut, and Black American George Floyd, whose recent killing by police sparked Black Lives Matter protests and discussions. Plans are to hopefully include these ‘small head’ portraits as part of his Colour Maker exhibit at Niagara-on-the Lake’s Pumphouse Arts Centre in October 2020. @geofffarnsworth or geoff-farnsworth.com

st. catharines, on 22


SIENNA DAHLEN

S

inger and composer Sienna Dahlen is grateful for a chance to slow down, focus, and pay more attention to her “human pace” during these strange times. “I feel very privileged because it’s meant more writing and creating for me at home.” Despite having to cancel her upcoming tours to Italy, Australia and New Zealand, she didn’t let that get her down and is in the beginning stage of planning a new tour for 2021. Tucked away in a cosy house by a river’s rapids in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal, Dahlen has been working on a p ro j e c t s h e s t a r t e d w i t h Vé ro Marengère right before the lockdown. “It’s two days’ worth of recording sessions—all improvised, experimental music—that we are now trying to piece together and edit via Zoom meetings.” Welcome to the brave new world of artist collaborations. “It’s more free music whereby anything goes. Lots of synthesizers, and spoken word text,” explains Dahlen. Thanks to an extended period of isolation throughout the spring, Dahlen also began experimenting w i t h o l d s t a n d a rd s a n d ot h e r cover songs that have influenced her over the years. The approach was to combine elements of improvisation and visuals (she

photo: Randy Cole

began exploring video editing during that time) and the results were familiar yet unpredictable takes on wellknown songs accompanied by glitchy footage of the nature that surrounds her home. Playful and controlled. Driven and improvised. Ethereal and grounded. The juxtaposition that is JUNO awardwinning Dahlen is palpable. She easily straddles different worlds, whether she’s floating between English and French, or skipping from genre to genre. “Jaded Heart” on her critically-acclaimed album Verglas is polished and beautifully executed, and she is equally at ease scatting and improvising live with her group Glass Trio in intimate Montreal jazz clubs. When asked how she reconciles these different parts of herself, she simply states, “They exist in their own worlds, but with some crossovers, a fusing of elements.” She is inspired by the music of MexicanAmerican singer-songwriter Lhasa de Sela and was grateful to have heard her perform in Paris just five months prior to de Sela’s death in 2010. continued on page 38

m o n t re a l , q c 23


“Paskwa Moostos-Buffalo� Portrait photographer Curtis Cameron says COVID helped to get him outdoors and inspired him to focus on taking more photos for himself, like wildlife and landscapes.

Curtis Cameron with one of his buffalo wildlife photos.

24


WA N D E R

Standing on the Edge of a Land Mass by Tanya Gouthro

“WHY IN THE NAME OF GOD WOULD YOU WANT TO GO THERE?” MY MAINLAND NOVA SCOTIAN COUSIN (ONE OF 19) ASKED ME, LOOKING SLIGHTLY ALARMED, WHEN I TOLD HIM I HAD A LONGING TO GO TO MEAT COVE, A VERY SMALL FISHING COMMUNITY AT THE NORTHERNMOST TIP OF CAPE BRETON ISLAND IN NOVA SCOTIA.

photo: Tanya Gouthro

M

y parents are from Nova Scotia, my father coming right “from the island,” a remark made very quickly by locals when they realize (and they will) that you aren’t. I remember driving the Cabot Trail years ago with a friend and stopping for a cold drink at a corner store. When the store owner eyed my Ontario license plates and immediately accused me of “not being from the island”, I assured him that I was not, but that my father was. He asked, and I gave him my father’s full name. “Eddie’s son,” he said, without missing a beat. It’s just that kind of place.

26

I like maps, and I love road trips. When I looked at the map of Cape Breton and saw a town I had never been to, off the well-beaten path of the Cabot Trail, I knew I had to go there. I learned that it was one of those “end of the road” places, a spot you didn’t drive through, but to. Once there you would hope to not be weathered in since there is one road in, and one road out. I am pulled to places like Meat Cove: places where the road drops off the GPS system; places that are difficult to get to; places that are the furthest you can go in any one direction; places where, when you arrive, locals are mildly surprised to see you


To say the rugged, raw and untouched wild of the Cape Breton Highlands is breathtakingly beautiful is a massive understatement.

there. I needed to stand on the end of a landmass, to feel the wind off the ocean whip salt into my face, and to feel my ancestors who settled about a 2.5-hour drive south of Meat Cove in the early 17th century. The first time I visited I had absolutely no idea what I was going to see. The road there was challenging and muddy, and did not exist on our GPS. We stopped to watch whales breach close by, then to wander through a cemetery. We saw just one person while on our way into the small settlement - a stooped ancient - looking man with a long white beard who seemed to step right out of the stones, pushing his walking stick along the side of the narrow road. To say the rugged, raw and untouched wild of the Cape Breton Highlands is breathtakingly beautiful is a massive understatement. We ate chowder from the tiny chowder shack and stood, mostly in silence, awed by the experience. I will never forget that first visit. I was fortunate to revisit Meat Cove with my best friend and our children several years later. To return to that same spot was one of my biggest accomplishments - to have my children feel that mist and fog, stand on the cliff and marvel at the sheer drop, and the fact that the next land mass off of this one was ... Newfoundland? The UK? ‌ It was

photo: Tiffany Jarva

magic, and it sparked a series of epic road trips that have pushed me in many directions, always seeking out those less travelled spots off the beaten path. It looks like the word is out - since my last trip in 2015, Meat Cove has gotten some welldeserved traffic. In today’s world, where people are fleeing toward silence, seeking out those quieter spaces en masse, I do wonder: how long will they continue to exist? photo: Tanya Gouthro

m e a t c ove , n s 27


DIGGING DEEP

RESTEVERWERTUNG Story & Photos by Marlene Wandel I found an applesauce strainer at the thrift store today. While it still feels weird to go to the thrift store, garbed up in a mask that was no doubt made from a unwanted shirt destined for the thrift store, but instead repurposed, I found not what I was looking for, but something I had been looking for, and for a very long time. Part of me was intrigued to go to the thrift store; it seems so many were KonMari-ing their homes these last weeks and months, there must be some treasures I surely need? Applesauce strainer aside, what these last weeks and months have really taught me (other than highlighting my lack of interest in culling my stuff, apparently), is how much of the unused and frequently re-piled stuff in my house has purpose, and the potential for function and perhaps even joy. There is an anti-culling movement afoot, without a catchy title or tagline: the life-changing magic of digging deep, using the stuff you already have. This is hardly a new concept, but one that has gotten lost in the shuffle of free shipping and Visa tap. It is just so easy to indulge in the ingredients for a new hobby, a new recipe, or just flat-out new stuff, that we forget to look around, and maybe dig in a giveaway pile for how we can make do with what we have. It’s the equivalent of eating the leftovers; in German, there is of course an unwieldy word for this: Resteverwertung. Google Translate will tell you this is leftover

28

recycling, but it is more literally leftover recovery; making something new out of what is left over. Apply this concept to your pile of unwanted clothes, and it is called quilting (or these days, mask making). Call it quilting, call it Resteverwertung—actually, no, don’t call it that—this has been the theme of our spring, globally. Many of us, feeling stuck at home without our usual outside distractions, dug deep into hobbies and activities that we could do at home. The patchwork of our lives has changed; we stitched together new patterns of days and socializing, by using what was still available to us. My son’s onerous


habit of filming himself while flinging himself off any obstacle in the neighbourhood on his bike or skis, and posting it to YouTube, suddenly was not so bad. What one year ago seemed like one more way to avoid doing chores or reading a book, now seems like a great way to connect with friends without having to sit on the same couch, or even be in the same building. Our under-used attic space, mainly a repository for stuff we have not culled, re-emerged from the rubble of the Coronavirus as a pretty great office for the suddenly work-from-home dad. The bits of lumber stashed under the deck and in the basement have suddenly found their way to being the garden boxes we always knew they could be. While this spring has spelled hardship

and heartbreak for many, it has also forced us to be among ourselves, to dwell in our relationships and our homes, and our stuff, without the constant distraction of something new and shiny and elsewhere. A friend called on a circle of crafters who are connected by social media with a challenge to make quilt squares, to be joined together into a combined project. Soon photos came forth of quilt squares made of old shirts, tablecloths, scraps from other projects. Someday, when we can all get together again, we can bring our Resteverwertung projects together, and hopefully remember some of the habits we found from digging deep into the lives we already have.

29


GOING DUTCH Our twist on the “splitting the cheque” idiom: sharing the load, and leaning on each other for strength during times of need.

Gift Of Tulips

Still Meaningful

T

his year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. Canadian soldiers played an incredi bly important role in this event, and the Dutch continue to show their appreciation by sending thousands of tulip bulbs to Ottawa every year.

never ends,” explains Canadian Tulip Festival General Manager Jo Riding. “It’s such a personal relationship. The connection is tangible with war brides and Dutch families moving here, helping to rebuild after the war, and sharing common values. Our friendship has continued for over

of Canada established May 5 as Dutch Heritage Day. In its 68th year, the Canadian Tu l i p Fe s t i v a l i s O t t a w a ’ s longest running festival and has showcased various types of entertainment over the years. P re s i d e n t Jo h n F. Ke n n e d y

"Our friendship has continued for over six decades and is still continuing forward.” ~ Jo Riding, Canadian Tulip Festival General Manager “The story of the Tulip Festival doesn’t end because the history of the incredible sacrifice Canadian made to get the gift of tulips

30

six decades and is still continuing forward.” With over one million people of Dutch descent living in Canada, in 2019 the Parliament

visited the festival in the ‘60s; Liberace opened the festival with a piano performance in the ‘70s. In subsequent decades


photos: Canadian Tulip Festival

After the initial 1945 royal gift of 100,000 hand-picked tulip bulbs, every year an additional 20,000 bulbs are gifted to Canada by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. These tulips are specifically planted in the Queen Juliana bed in memory of the sacrifice made by Canadian soldiers, as well as in recognition of the safe birth of Queen Juliana’s daughter Princess Margriet who was born in 1943 during the Second World War, while the Queen and family sheltered in Ottawa.

there was a focus on musical concerts, including the 1987 debut performance by then 12-year-old Canadian icon Alanis Morissette. “It’s now more rerooted in the tulips, the history, and the horticulture,” says Riding. As with many events in 2020, the festival had to pivot and quickly change its approach. As such, TulipTV was born. “In a way it’s a bit of a silver lining,” says Riding, “because it’s more

accessible to people who can’t make it to Ottawa.” A campaign focused on planting 1.1 million tulips in honour of the 1.1 million Canadians who served in the Second World War is another addition. “The Liberation 75 program has also been a great way to see how our friendship continues to grow,” adds Riding.

of historical information and entertainment, including walking tours of the tulip gardens, stories of veterans, Canadian music and dance tributes, Dutch folktales, “Songs of Liberation” and more.

Check out TulipTV for hours

ottawa, on 31


Teaching Linda the art of selfies, 2019

REMEMBERING

LINDA

STITT

“The world and I, we interchange / we interweave and rearrange / and flow forever in osmosis. // The process is the purpose / and the purpose is the process.” ~Linda Stitt, Yesterday’s Poetry, 1983

A tribute to a beloved Canadian poet by Rita Visser

I

met Linda 20 years ago when I needed a job, and she needed a ride.

I drove her to Sault Ste. Marie from Thunder Bay. I didn't know her when the trip began; I had only seen her present her powerful poetry at The Thunder Bay Art Gallery - a performance that had me awestruck, to say the least. Her words were profound, conveying her deep passion. Needless to say, I was honoured to be her chauffeur. An incredible f r i e n d s h i p a n d a wa ke n i n g emerged during that drive along the breathtaking north shore of Lake Superior. She recited her poetry to me while I drove the windy road, tears trickling down

my face. We stopped along sandy shores to rest and I also shared some of my songs, strumming my guitar. Over the past decade, my most comfortable gigs were when I hung out in Toronto with Linda and her fellow poets, along with other music makers, writers, and journalists. I know we will all gather again one day to celebrate Linda’s spirit. Dear Linda, you will be missed and celebrated with each step, and I know you will be here in spirit, always. You spoke often of infinite possibilities and oneness, and inspired me to share this optimism with others. I have shared most of my copies of Linda's books throughout

the years, hoping they would come back and find me but I suppose that wasn’t meant to be. After she passed away this May, I ordered a couple of her books online. Yesterday's Poetry arrived in my mailbox used, tattered, and inscribed to a stranger: “For Alisa, may the muse continue to smile on you. With love, Linda.” Linda's teaching and words will continue to be a muse, and her memory will influence me always. Poet Linda Stitt passed away in Toronto this past May. She was 88 years old. A few of her books include Yesterday’s Poetry (1984), Uncritical Mass in Consort (1995), Passionate Intensity (2003), and Acting My Age (2013).

t o ro n t o , o n 32


Pockets Of Joy Story & Photo by Jessica McCann

T

he first time my sevenyear-old daughter, Izzy, saw a palm tree, she hugged and kissed it like it was the best thing she had ever seen—and maybe it was. Years later, every time my family sees a palm tree we still recall both the warmth of that day as well as the smile on her face, and how happy we all felt in that moment. Lately, little pockets of joy are hard to pin down in a day and even when I am able to, they seem fleeting. We are living

in the midst of a pandemic. Politics feel like they are burning up our nation; anxiety, depression, worry and fear are at an all-time high. We aren’t even able to plan our next backyard BBQ, let alone a family vacation. Those palm trees sure feel very far away. Joyful recollections of the times we felt more free, or perhaps when our children were younger, or when we ourselves felt more innocent and less encumbered—those are memories we get to hold with us forever. Stopping to

reflect on the kissing of a palm tree, or the kissing of the palm of someone we love, is a little pocket of joy any of us can do right here, right now, in this moment. I encourage us all to take a moment every day to simply sit in a memory. Close your eyes and recall the smells, textures, sensations, and peace of that experience. Let the pleasure wash over you exactly how you remember it. Take time to just breathe, and know that you always have that pocket of joy to return to—right in your own back pocket.

n i a g a ra , o n 33


NIGHT OWL VS EARLY BIRD 34

NIGHT OWL? What’s Your Natural Circadian Rhythm?

It is said that Elvis Presley was a night owl. When on a tour of RCA Studio B in Nashville, I learned that the “Are You Lonesome Tonight” singer would arrive in the early evening with burgers, fries and shakes from a local diner. Everyone would eat first, warm up with some gospel tunes and then start recording into the wee hours of the night. I’ve been curious about sleep patterns during this pandemic. I am naturally a night owl—I am more creative and prefer to write at night than during the day—and have had to train myself over the years to go to bed at a decent hour and get up early in the morning, because that’s what productive people with day jobs and kids do. However, during COVID times, I have found myself pushing my bedtime further and further, and getting up a little bit later. My teenage son has almost flipped his nights and days. This all has me wondering how many other night owls are feeling the same, like we’ve been granted some sort of bedtime freedom? It also makes me wonder why some of us tend to rejoice in the rising of the sun, while some of us prefer the rhythms of the night.

A recent UK study documents how researchers have identified hundreds of gene variations that may dictate when people go to sleep. The genomes of around 700,000 people were monitored and the team observed that ‘morning people’ didn’t sleep longer or better than ‘night people’—they just slept at different times. The study also notes that a person’s chronotype—our natural rhythms in terms of when we prefer to sleep or when we are most alert or energetic—and how it aligns, or misaligns, with our lifestyles may be closely linked to our mental health and have a deep impact on our well-being. Perhaps now, and moving forward during these strange times, there is flexibility in terms of when we choose to say goodnight and when we choose to start our day in ways that are more closely connected to our natural circadian rhythms. For the time being, I’ll continue to stay up a tad bit later and not feel guilty about letting my teenager sleep in a little longer, and trust that our bodies are doing what they need to do right now. -TJ


35


FRANKLIN ALLEN cont'd In 1970, discouraged by the state of the U.S. at the height of the Vietnam War—“I promise I was too old to be a dodger”—Allen and his wife Nadine—an active ‘70s feminist and advocate for social change who later worked for the Vancouver Status of Women for many years—decided to pack up their family and move to Canada in their Volkswagen. “It was hilarious because we thought we could just drive across the border and move to Canada,” he laughs. “It didn’t quite work that way!” Instead, the Allen family spent nine months in Eugene waiting for their official papers. Once settled in Vancouver in 1971, Allen admits he couldn’t find work. “I was a bit of a smartass,” he smiles. “No one wanted me.” He did manage to land some side jobs, including design work on a deep-diving submarine, and he eventually opened his own office with a focus on custom residential homes. And even though he’s been officially retired for years, Allen continues to paint, shape beautiful designs out of wire, and think about the future of the S5 Cart. Is it possible to move forward with the idea? Does it make sense to pass the concept on to someone else?

“I’m now at this stage where I can physically get in and out of the mock-up but it’s still too heavy. Maybe there’s a future in this for someone who can create a prototype. I’m willing to work with anyone who wants to go forward with it.” Allen pauses, nodding his head a little and smiling, and simply states, “If anyone is interested, let’s do it!”

36

CHARITY MARSH cont'd Adults have also let Marsh know how much they enjoy listening, because it takes them back to the simpler times of their own childhoods. “One (show) we did was on kindness, compassion, generosity and gratitude. Maybe we’re assisting (listeners) with some of their anxiety and just coming back to a place of nurturing.” Other themes include bicycles, home haircuts, climate change, the Black Lives Matter movement, and celebrating May Day, Pride and National Indigenous Peoples Day. Marsh says that thinking about kids’ experiences has provided a chance to be really present during a remarkable time, and to contemplate how we engage with others through music, creative arts, and community. “It’s a particular kind of work that allows me to keep everything very real. It’s a way for me to engage in the world as it is right now.” She is also aware and appreciative of the unique aspects of radio as a medium. “I have noticed an engagement with the kids and radio. They love listening to our radio show, and engaging with themselves, and engaging with others in other shows, in that they’re responding to whoever is talking—even though it’s recorded and it’s not live. It is interactive in a way that we sometimes forget radio can be … We don’t always have to have


someone responding to us; we can just respond and engage in this kind of dialogue with whoever is on the radio, with our mind and our thoughts based on what they said and where it takes us.”

dancing—until Novoa’s work halted this past March because of the restrictions surrounding the global pandemic. She immediately seized the opportunity to resume dancing full-time, launching Dahab’s

CJTR is launching an interactive website where listeners can find all previous episodes.

Charity Marsh is a popular music scholar and ethnomusicologist. She works in the Faculty of Media, Arts and Performance at the University of Regina, where she is the Director of the Interactive Media and Performance Lab. Her work focuses largely on questions of access, engagement, and empowerment through music and technology.

6 DEGREES cont'd The pair married, and Novoa joined Skowronski in the northern Ontario city of Thunder Bay. Eager to keep dancing and performing, in 2010 she opened the World Dance Centre, taking advantage of a business incubator. “I had met some local belly dancers who were supportive and took workshops, and through them I met people and they were excited about the idea of having the studio started.” Novoa introduced her students to a variety of dance forms including belly dance, bhangra, Bollywood, Persian, samba and flamenco, thus creating opportunities to dance in recitals and at events throughout the city. After six years in Thunder Bay, the couple moved to North Bay to establish themselves in the town’s film industry. With long days on set there was little time or energy left for

Novoa catching her breath between dancing a challenging audition at Cochaviva - a folkloric dance company in Bogotá

E-Studio and reaching out to former members of the World Dance Centre. “It’s surprising how quickly we go back to being that community that we had,” she says. “With dance you have this glue, it becomes such a magnetic force for people because you have people that would probably never talk to each other in real life from all walks of life and ages, all religious beliefs, political beliefs, coming together and doing this activity together ... Even if we disagree in other aspects of our life, we always have that in common and that creates a strong link.” In April, Novoa and Skowronski released a series on YouTube called The Dance Connection, inspired by Novoa’s appreciation of Anthony Bourdain’s approach to food and travel. “It seemed that working with dance would take you even deeper into a culture because dance in itself inspires cultural practices that lie deeper than food; it’s people’s understanding of the world, gender roles, joy, expression, and music,” she says. The first installment of The Dance Connection sees Novoa return to Colombia, where her father still lives,

37


Talking to a few dancers of the dance company Monica Lindo in Barranquilla

to discover dances of her home country. In Bogotá, Novoa learns about the Champeta and Joropa; then ventures to Cali, the salsa capital of the world, to experience a style of salsa known as the Salsa Caleña; and finally, to the Atlantic coast for the spectacular Carnaval de Barranquilla. Novoa hopes to continue with the YouTube series and dreams of one day travelling to India, but admits it’s difficult to think too far ahead and says time will tell. “I’m hoping we’ll eventually have someone to fund it. I believe in it, and I think there’s a lot of value in it.” For now, Novoa is content to spend hours honing her craft, reconnecting with a community of dancers, and learning from the myriad of teachers who have pivoted to online content. “It’s a dancer’s paradise,” she says. What is certain is that wherever Novoa goes, and whatever she does, she will continue to spin an irresistible gold thread that brings people together to dance.

“Living in the north informs my writing,” she does admit. “I tend to have an innate desire to write music that is open with room to breathe.” Dahlen refers to the sun dipping behind the mountains and living in those longer shadows not only in the Laurentians but also when she lived in Dawson Creek and Nelson, BC. Ice Age Paradise was planned a few months before the loss of her mother and in turn the album was dedicated to her. It also marked the end of a long-term relationship, and the death of her former partner’s mother in a tragic accident.

SIENNA DAHLEN cont'd

Today, Dahlen says she is finding solace beside her ever-changing river. “In the winter it’s like a different painting appears on the water every day.” As a music teacher at McGill and Concordia universities, Dahlen is thoughtful about how things might look come fall. “I think this is a good opportunity for all of us to find creative ways to learn, work on active listening, and explore new music.”

There seems to be an underlying theme of ice, translucence and reflection as evidenced in the names of her albums and her trio. Dahlen laughs, saying this was not done by conscious design.

Dóttir, the duo featuring Sienna Dahlen and Véro Marengère, have booked a live show (hopefully for an audience) on October 3rd, 2020 at the Lion d’Or in Montreal as part of the l’OFF Festival de Jazz de Montréal. Check out Sienna Dahlen’s music on Soundcloud and Spotify.

38


CURTIS CAMERON photography

@curtiscameronphotography curtiscameron_photography

CURTISCAMERONPHOTOGRAPHY.COM SERVING WESTERN CANADA & BEYOND

ADVERTISE WITH US

let our design team convey your message .

sterktemedia@gmail.com

DOCUMENTING LIFE STORIES

mymomentos.ca

Profile for sterktemedia

Sterkte: Community Builders  

Sterkte: Community Builders  

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded