Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
A week ago, Adriana Oplanich was in Argentina's Chaco province during the peak of summer, when the temperature was nearly 40 C.
On Thursday, she was climbing a ladder at Whittier Park, shovel in hand, carving a snow sculpture the day before the 2020 edition of Festival du Voyageur began, as temperatures felt like - 40 with windchill.
Alongside Oplanich, snow sculptors from across the world — including France, Great Britain and the exotic land known as Saskatchewan — were out crafting their creations; all around, the festival literally was taking shape.
In a tent nearby, organizers and contributors gathered to kick off the festivities for the 51st annual event, one that coincides with the 150th anniversary of Manitoba joining Confederation.
"As we commemorate Manitoba's 150th anniversary... it is only right to remember those early partnerships between settlers and Indigenous peoples, and acknowledge the need to continually advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples here in Manitoba," said Rochelle Squires, minister of francophone affairs and MLA for Riel.
Festival executive director Darrel Nadeau said this year's edition will have all of the expected traditions — music, maple syrup, a lot of francophone pride and no shortage of Hé Ho — but will also take steps toward being more environmentally conscious and inclusive of Indigenous culture.
Moves include a festival-wide composting program, no plastic or Styrofoam packaging and a water-refill centre to discourage single-use bottles. There will also be a modern Indigenous cuisine pop-up, art installations, a market and a conversation with Beatriece Mosionier, author of In Search of April Raintree.
The festival's 2020 logo was created by Winnipeg artist Jordan Stranger, a member of Peguis First Nation. It marries festival themes and cultures of Indigenous people who live in Manitoba into one cohesive design.
"They gave me free rein to come up with the idea myself," Stranger said Thursday.
The image includes a teepee with a sacred hoop and a symbol representing the four directions, along with fire, musical notes, snowflakes and a representation of the creator, all wrapped up in a red sash.
"I think it was a sign of change. Reconciliation, that's really what it is, and I feel like it should be happening everywhere," Stranger said.
His father, Wayne, is also making an artistic contribution to the festival, crafting a snow sculpture in the central gallery.
Nearby was a team from North Dakota and Minnesota, chiselling at a giant block.
"It's going to eventually be two castles on top of a mountain with a dragon wrapped around it," one man explained through his scarf.
"I call it Tranquil Beast," shouted another.
In total, about 20 sculptors from around the world applied to build a piece of outdoor art, said Christel Lanthier, co-ordinator of the snow sculpture symposium. None of the seven successful applicants were from Winnipeg.
"It's my first time in Canada, and my first time carving snow. I work on restorations of cathedrals, so this is a bit different, but the same sort of mindset," said Will Davis, a stone mason from Winchester, England.
"It's my first time in minus 30," he said, moustache tips encased in ice. "It's brilliant."
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.
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