by Dianne Tchir, Member of the Northern Alberta Writers and Authors Group
Many debates have surfaced over the years about the importance of the Arts to the Education Curricula and society as a whole. Nurturing our children to develop their creative gifts is the responsibility of the greater society, and not just the domain of the dedicated professionals in the Education System.
Never before was this made more apparent than in May 2011 when our small community of Slave Lake (in Northern Alberta, Canada) was struck by a horrendous firestorm on a scale never seen before in Canada. Forcing the evacuation of 7,000 inhabitants from their homes, the firestorm engulfed homes and destroyed infrastructure, and striking perhaps a mortal blow to the will and viability of the community to recover and to realize all that it can become. That is just the physical damage. Many individuals still suffer emotional and psychological trauma from the disaster and will likely continue to suffer for many years.
In the past, the Arts represented by its writers, artists, photographers, dramatic and theatre actors, woodcarvers, musicians, quilters and others struggled to become an integral part of Slave Lake and the greater region. The collective voice that was struggling to be heard in the wilderness even then now cries out. In the words of Abraham Maslow:“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.”
All of these gifts lie within each of us, even residents of a community that has suffered unspeakable loss and trauma. Now it is more important than ever to include the Arts in our community, as part of the necessary basis for facilitating the healing process.
Interaction with the Arts can change people and create connections that otherwise may never have taken place. The Arts both encourages and fosters interaction, are non-threatening, very therapeutic and absolutely essential to the health of a community. Based on respect and inclusion, the Arts transcends barriers, representing a valuable communication tool enabling people of all ages, races and abilities to work together.
Let the tragic events of May 2011 in Slave Lake represent a clarion call to action. It is time to open community doors everywhere to the Arts and join in the creative process to strengthen our communities.
Author, Poet, Teacher and Hatha Chair Yoga Instructor
Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada
Dianne Tchir is the author of The Rhythmic Cycle: Exploring Life’s Pulsations Through Poetry (New York: Limited Editions Press, 2011) and the forthcoming Northern Phoenix: Resurrecting Hope Through Poetry (New York: Limited Editions Press, 2012).
Let our writer and author friends in Slave Lake know you’re thinking of them. Visit the Northern Alberta Writers and Authors Group (NAWAG) on Facebook and select the “Like” button.