Fredericton / Blog / 201708 / The Bridge Project - A Conversation for the Future

The Bridge Project - A Conversation for the Future

The Bridge Project - A Conversation for the Future

Solo Chicken Productions upcoming Canada 150 Project – The Bridge Project is rooted in the idea that Canada 150 doesn’t just mean epic fireworks, historical tours and Canadian Tire driven merchandise (although that is all pretty fun) but also offers space for an exciting public conversation where we can interrogate, explore and even celebrate our past, present and future together.  What Canada 150 means to each person in the country is as varied as our landscape and each voice and perspective is critical as we bound into the future together.

With a desire to support that public conversation, Solo Chicken Production in collaboration with a huge number of artists, community members and organizations has created The Bridge Project.  We invite you to mark Canada’s 150 through an artistic interrogation, exploration and celebration of our past, present and future, by walking over the mighty Wolastoq via the walking bridge and take a metaphorical and literal journey through time.  On Friday September 8th 2017 (Rain Date Saturday September 9th) Solo Chicken Productions and our team of artists and community members will bring the bridge to life through a multi-media exploration of our history. The bridge will become a living time tunnel through which the audience will walk, descending or ascending through our shared history.

MCAF Workshop

A critical part of this project, that reflects Solo Chicken Productions commitment to community arts practice, is that in addition to hosting a myriad of projects that have been created by some of Fredericton’s most accomplished artists, The Bridge Project is providing guidance in the form of facilitators, artists and supplies to interested community organizations so that their voices to be heard. 

The Multicultural Association of Fredericton has been one of these organizations and we have worked closely with their staff supporting the development of four unique projects. One MCAF project that has grown to very close to our hearts is the Wolastoqiyik Basketry Workshop held for Syrian women. Accomplished Wolastoqiyik artist Judie Acquin agreed to come on board to lead the project in which she shared her rich traditional Wolastoqiyik basketry skills with the women.  We recently sat down with Judie to talk about the project and to hear about her experience and perspective.

As a Wolastoqiyik artist and activist Judie was originally reluctant to engage in a Canada 150 Project with reservations about ‘celebrating’ the confederation of a country that has oppressed her people through broken treaties, residential schools and political oppression.  However, the draw to share her cultural practices with newcomers and to begin the delicate work of building bridges between cultures was eventually what allowed her to engage in the experience.

“I had to put myself in a different place.  I had to take myself out of my perspective and I had to put myself in somebody else’s perspective and the only way to start building any kind of respect is to pass on knowledge… that’s why I decided to take on the project.  I had an opportunity here to share my knowledge and share my skill and give them (Syrian Women) a real perspective of who we (Indigenous People) are.”

Basketry Workshop

Judie noted that after the initial session where the group was overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers they made a big leap as a group.  “I was much more relaxed and because they came back I knew that they were there because they wanted to be there, which was nice, you know to have them return. I felt like I was actually able to share with them.”

With that growing sense of comfort between Judie and the group she was able to not only share her passion for weaving but a bit of her culture, with the group exchanging words in their native languages on the final day the workshops.   For Judie the experience had a more profound effect than she was originally expecting.  Although the Syrian women were assembled to learn more about Wolastoqiyik basketry and culture, Judie realized that she too had much to learn from her ‘students’.  She noted that despite the linguistic and cultural differences between the Syrian and Wolastoqiyik people they also had much in common, especially the importance of family and community as the central pillars of their societies.  She spoke of how her people are trying to rebuild those family and community connections after centuries of oppression and how a relationship with these newcomers could be healing.

If the Wolastoqiyik Basketry Workshop was the only project on the bridge it would have all been worth it just for that moment where an art workshop became a space for cultural exchange and understanding.  That is what this project is truly for.  Bridging gaps, and sharing our knowledge and our stories so we can build a new future together.

So please, come out and join the conversation!

The BRIDGE PROJECT:
Friday September 8th 2017 (Rain Date Saturday September 9th 2017)
5PM-8PM on the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge (Enter from North or South Side)
FREE (Donations Welcome) – Cyclists will be asked to dismount and walk.
Full Program Available at: www.solochickenproductions.com

Alex Rioux is an emerging theatre artists from Fredericton, NB who’s performed with TNB, Theatre St. Thomas, NotaBle Acts, Bard in the Barracks, and more! Having recently earned his BA in English with concentration in Drama, he’s currently working as Solo Chicken Production’s Media Coordinator. He’s also a member of Solo Chicken’s Coop CORPS, and you can catch him performing improv with The Hot Garbage Players!

LISA ANNE ROSS, the Artistic Producer of Solo Chicken Productions, teaches and directs at St. Thomas University and alongside Lesandra Dodson, is the Co-Artistic Director of the coop, which is a new initiative launched by Solo Chicken that aims to create opportunities for both professional and emerging New Brunswick artists.  Working on The Bridge Project has been a wonderful opportunity to connect with artists and community members across the city and to see a vibrant, diverse perspective of our history come to life.