Open Sky Creative Society
The Open Sky Creative Society is an integral part of the community of Fort Simpson, NT and the surrounding communities of the Deh Cho region. They provide an example of multi-faceted cross-cultural community arts programming in the North. While programming is year round, they engage in one focus event in the summer.
Inter-generational learning opportunities such as traditional ‘Moose Hair Tufting’ and ‘Porcupine Quilling’ foster on-going nurturance of Dene practices. These are held along side contemporary skill building opportunities. For example, a workshop on arts-based web-site building was held. Julia Tsetso explains, “My job is to find new people to help out with this dazzling community event. I like to think of myself as a person who strives to include people, puts faith in their abilities, and makes them feel that their contributions are a great gift to their community, therefore their region, territory, country and world”.
Partnerships abound in this organization. During the Community Canvas Project individuals and groups were involved in the design and painting of a giant tipi which depicted healthy lifestyles in the Deh Cho. Two years prior, the community undertook it’s first community-based video production entitled, Four Generations of Dene Women: Trial and Triumphs. This multi-generational production engaged everyone from small children to elders, the band office, the Native Friendship Centre, the municipality, and the schools. Follow-up has included training youth to express their own visions through an introduction to video camera operations, cinematography, and basic editing techniques.
The festival itself is a celebration of culture and community. In one year a community feast, a traditional drum dance, and an indigenous women’s performance group will be coupled with old time fiddling and hip-hop under the midnight sun: “Art is an important part of healthy, balanced and dynamic cultures and societies. We respect traditions while taking into account current realities. We value integrity in ourselves, our members and our communities - social integrity, personal integrity, and artistic integrity. We strive to model integrity in all we do”.