Summer Students make Strides at Sarasvàti

A world premiere, general auditions, FemFest brochure launch, outreach, a fundraising dinner, Timeraiser display, garage sale – how have we managed all of this in the last month? We’ve been very fortunate to welcome two hard-working summer students to team Sarasvàti thanks to Canada Summer Jobs. They’ve pitched in on so many important tasks and now they’re working on our 2017-18 Season Launch. Tamera and Larysa bring dedication and fresh ideas to the table and we are so pleased to hear from them in this week’s blog entry.

“I am proud to be at Sarasvàti Productions and to work in a community with a strong social conscience”, says Tamera, who began working as our Production Assistant in May.

TameraGrace-grown-FemFest17“So far my highlight of the summer was when I was backstage during Breaking Through. The cast and crew were all magnificent, as well as the story. It was very life-giving to support them through a smooth run of the show, as well as making sure everyone was comfortable and ready.

Aside from being able to work on their spring production, I have been spending most of my time in the office. This is my first time working in an office; it has been a good opportunity to improve my professional skills.”

Tamera is working on completing her double degree in Theatre and Business at the U of W.

“My original plan was to focus on acting, but I will be graduating with a focus in acting as well as production and business. For me, working with Sarasvàti has really clarified my desire to work in the not-for-profit sector. I want to continue finding opportunities to support those in the community.”

Timeraiser pic 2017

Tamera Grace at TimeRaiser150 with Hope McIntyre looking for great new Sarasvàti volunteers.

“One of the great things about Sarasvati Productions is the opportunity it creates for discussion and understanding”, says Larysa, our Marketing & Community Outreach Assistant.

“Getting over fifty people to sit in one room, eat Ethiopian food, smell Ethiopian coffee beans, and listen to a difficult true story about becoming a refugee is no easy thing to organize. But, I think, this type of event is necessary for building healthy and strong communities. Like me, the people who listened to Saeed’s story may walk away feeling more empathy than they felt before. And that is no small achievement.”

IMG_4303Larysa is a Creative Communications student at Red River College and the director of Winnipeg Poetry Slam. She talks about her favourite experience while working with Sarasvàti—working at the Honouring Courage – Celebrating Diversity fundraiser dinner with human rights activist and speaker, Ali Saeed.

“We’re used to thinking of revenge as a bad thing. We think of threat, torture, and war. Ali Saeed calls this ‘red revenge’. But Saeed says there is one other type of revenge just as compelling: kindness, compassion and generosity. His word for this is ‘green revenge.’

Seven years Saeed spent imprisoned and sentenced to death in Somalia. Now he’s speaking to a roomful of people here at Gohe Restaurant for Sarasvàti Productions’ fundraiser. The entire room is quiet. The people I’m sitting with grimace and look downward.

Saeed talks about the cruelty he witnessed: forced abortion, lashings, hanging, cutting. Listening to Saeed, I am reminded of the safety I have here in Canada, a true luxury.

On his feet, Saeed wears loose Velcro sandals. He points to the burn marks on his heels, marks from the hardship he endured. Sandals are one of the few shoes he’ll wear because of the pain. Barefoot is preferable.

‘No one chooses to be a refugee,’ Saeed says.”

Larysa says working for Sarasvàti Productions has opened her mind to experiences outside of her own, which has been an invaluable experience.

19237808_10212737297088618_300952140824097619_o

Larysa Musick at Honouring Courage – Celebrating Diversity Fundraiser Dinner for Sarasvàti Productions at Gohe Restaurant.

You can see some of their awesome ideas in action at the 2017-18 Season Launch, Friday August 4th 7pm at the Saddlery on Market (114 Market Ave).

Connecting to Culture – Celebrating National Aboriginal Day

By Janet Adamana, Marketing & Community Outreach Assistant

One of the highlights of being the Marketing & Community Outreach summer student is having the opportunity to get out into the community, explore this great city and connect with my fellow Manitobans.

As June 21st marked the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, crowds of Winnipeggers came together to celebrate. This National day gives Canadians the opportunity to learn about and celebrate the country’s rich heritage and traditions.  I was out and about at the North Centennial Recreation Centre to take in all their National Aboriginal Day festivities.
IMG_20160621_125524There was everything from traditional drums and pow-wows, to kids’ crafts and an Aboriginal crafter’s market. At the crafter’s market I met Sylvia, who creates beautiful handmade and hand-carved beaded jewelry. Many of her pieces were made from hematite, a.k.a. the Stone for the Mind or Blood Stone. Sylvia has been making these pieces for several years now and informed me that these stones were used for healing by Indigenous peoples. Make sure to stop by and say hi to Sylvia at the APTN Aboriginal Day Live vendor market this weekend.

I also got a sample of Manitoban Aboriginal writers and their stories through Winnipeg-based publishing company,IMG_20160621_124952 Indian Life Ministries, and learned about local organizations like the Aboriginal Senior Resources Centre – a non-profit organization supporting the health of Aboriginal seniors and Elders. All-in-all it was a great afternoon with back-to-back performances, educational booths and kid-friendly fun.

For anyone who didn’t get a chance to celebrate on Tuesday, it’s not too late! The city will be jam-packed with a variety of celebrations taking place all weekend. Here’s just a few to check out.

Summer Solstice Ceremony at St. Amant – Thursday, June 23 | 2 pm
All week the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has been hosting events around town as part of their Indigenous Cultures Awareness Week. Today they’ll be at St. Amant hosting a Summer Solstice Ceremony.

National Aboriginal Day Celebrations at Mount Carmel ClinicFriday, June 24 |12:30pm – 4pm
You can start off the weekend with Mount Carmel’s community feast, and take a stroll through the Indigenous art and craft market. The event also features performances by Tom Dutiaume, Inuit throat singer, Nikki Komaksiutiksak and a keynote presentation by Dr. Niigaanwewidam Sinclair, Professor and Native Studies Department Head at the University of Manitoba. Stay for the closing Prayer and Round Dance at 4.

APTN’s Aboriginal Day Live at The ForksSaturday, June 25 | 11am – 11pm
This is Winnipeg’s biggest National Aboriginal Day event, and one you definitely don’t want to miss. It’s an entire day full of free family-friendly activities including APTN’s Kids’ Zone, Aboriginal Day Live Pow Wow and a Skateboard Competition for teens. The evening kicks off at 7 pm with live entertainment. Catch acts like A Tribe Called Red, folk singer Kristi Lane Sinclair and a spectacular close out show by Buffy Sainte-Marie with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. The celebrations end with a sparkling fireworks show.

To find out more about National Aboriginal Day and celebrations going on across the country visit, the National Aboriginal Day webpage.