In Canada July 21st marks Parks Day – an annual event where thousands of people participate in fun, educational, family-oriented events in parks and Historic Sites across the country. Many activities highlight the important role that parks play in maintaining healthy and resilient ecosystems, protecting critical habitat for species-at-risk and contributing to human health and well-being. There were several events that took place throughout the Yukon on Saturday to celebrate of Park’s Day and I was honoured to be the artist-in-residence for the event which took place at the S.S. Klondike and the Millennium Trail.
During the event participants traveled the length of the trail stopping at stations that were set up en-route where they could learn about local species. My role was to work with the participants to have them capture their experiences through art with a simple set of supplies (paper, a black pen, and a clipboard). I made a couple of samples up to encourage everyone to capture the little things they saw as they made their way around the loop. During the day my role was one of art instruction and encouragement.
Unsurprisingly it was the kids who were willing to throw themselves into an art project (and I’ve shared a few of their pieces with you here). The majority of adults told me that they “couldn’t draw” or the they “weren’t artistic”. It always makes me sad when I hear this excuse – I’m convinced that everyone is born an artist but the majority of us have that creativity drilled out of us at a young age because a teacher or mentor or peer tells us that we’re doing it “wrong”. In fact, one person even told me that she stopped believing that she could draw in kindergarten when her teacher told her she was colouring a picture the “wrong way”. I really hope that this teaching style is changing, although the fact that some of the slightly older children were giving me the same lines as their parents is worrisome (the good news is that this group could be easily convinced that they really should try to create some art…with fabulous results). I’m convinced the reason I’m an artist today is that no one ever told me I was doing it “wrong” (or if they did I was far too stubborn to believe them).
Regardless it turned into a beautiful day in the sun with some fabulous art created by my young participants. If you want to learn more about the event you can check out the press release below:
Celebrate Parks Day:
Get to Know Your Wild Whitehorse Neighbours!
Whitehorse, Yukon, July 1, 2012. Whitehorse is the Wilderness City – and, on Parks Day, Saturday July 21, 2012, Parks Canada and friends are hosting a free Family Fun BioBlitz to help kids learn about the wild neighbours who live among us. Meet a Mayfly, take a turn with an Arctic Tern, discover Aspen adaptations, and catch some Kokanee (on camera)!
Check in at the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site between noon and 3 p.m. to pick up your special field guide, then hike or bike the Millennium Trail. Along the way, biologists and artists will lead activities to help you and your children (age 6-12) learn to recognize and name some familiar and not-so-familiar “wild neighbours”.
Canada’s Parks Day is the third Saturday in July. It is an annual event where thousands of people participate in fun, educational, family-oriented events in parks and historic sites across the country. Many activities highlight the important role that parks play in maintaining healthy and resilient ecosystems, protecting critical habitat for species at risk, and contributing to human health and well-being.
A bioblitz is an event where biologists identify and count every species they see and hear in a given time. Get-to-Know.org’s BioBlitz puts a fun new spin on the bioblitz concept, by offering short, youth-focused events that are all about connecting with nature. It incorporates cool art activities developed in consultation with iconic artist and naturalist Robert Bateman. In Whitehorse, local artist/scientist Amber Church will provide art tips.
Parks Canada is working with Get to Know as well as Environment Yukon, the City of Whitehorse, and numerous local organizations. This is a citizen science initiative, where participants will be able to share their observations, photos and even art work on-line afterwards.
Back at the S.S. Klondike grounds, the Boys’ and Girls’ Club will host kite flying and a BBQ. In keeping with Parks Day tradition, free cake will be served at 3:00 p.m. by Parka, Parks Canada’s new mascot. Kids who complete the BioBlitz activities will receive small prizes and be entered for a special draw.