Flin Flon hosts major Northern Canadian Arts symposium

Imagine North by Crystal Kolt

“Winds in the east, there’s a mist coming in,

like something is brewing about to begin.”


This is more than just an opening line from the Broadway musical theatre production of Mary Poppins, it’s a feeling in the air right now in Northern Manitoba.

In March, the first Northern Art Conference was hosted in Flin Flon, funded by University College of the North with support from the Community Economic Development Fund and Community Futures Greenstone and attended by the imagiNorthern committee, creatives, Northern Arts Organizations and Champions from northern Manitoba in addition to provincial and federal funders. To put this all in perspective the list of attendees was impressive. 

We were very honoured and excited to not only have a keynote presentation by Canada Council for the Arts Chair Jesse Wente, but his presence as well as that of CCA Director Odile Joannette throughout the conference, relayed a deliberate intention of support from the East. We had representation from Canadian Heritage, Prairies Can, Manitoba Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Network, University College of the North and Thom Sparling (Creative Manitoba). Trudy Schroeder (Arts and Heritage Solutions) helped guide the conference. 

Strategic Moves’ Inga Petri traveled from Whitehorse to present her findings on the Northern Art Survey which was circulated throughout the north during the summer of 2022. Inga’s contribution was profound. She demonstrated in words and diagrams what we’d known in our hearts about the northern cultural sector. She clarified that indeed it is present and impressive but needs to be acknowledged, supported and promoted. 

imagiNorthern, incubated by the Flin Flon Arts Council, is a new network that can grow into a regional network across all northern Manitoba’s communities. Its champion network can be expanded to convene working meetings designed to identify and meet the needs across the North.


Strategic Moves

There is a notable shift in confidence and forward thinking momentum for the northern culture sector. Again Inga says it best in her report:

Guided by our no-limits innovative spirit and shared love and respect for the land we inhabit, we (Northern artists, art organizations, arts service organizations and cross-sectoral partners) build a thriving, inclusive arts and cultural sector that plays a profound role in a diversified economy, supports health and well-being or artists and communities, and celebrates and makes known the world over the North’s rich tapestry of cultures, languages, artistic and creative expressions.

As the Flin Flon Arts Council prepares the stage for Mary Poppins to fly into town from May 5 to 7th, directed by the fabulous Ann Hodges before she (who is also practically perfect in every way) flies off to direct an opera in Taiwan three days later, I have to share one final thought. The final number of the musical, which is a personal guiding principle in my life, I believe right now is a feeling flowing throughout the north like the aurora borealis…. Anything Can Happen If You Let It. I am positive that exciting times are ahead for the northern cultural sector and look forward to sharing it far and wide, north and south, east and west.

Apologies to Crystal Kolt for the error in her name in her last contribution. Crystal is the true Arts Mavin of the North. Her list of credentials are too long to mention, among them Culture Days in Northern Manitoba, Choir leader, Uptown Emporium founder . . .if it is arts in northern Manitoba, see Crystal in Flin Flon!