Tracy Holmes photo Roxanne Charles and Lyn Verra-Lay have organized events for this weekend’s Culture Days.

Weekend ‘an opportunity to grow and celebrate culture’

Culture Days events taking place throughout Surrey and White Rock Sept. 29-Oct. 1

After months of promoting culture, a full weekend of celebrating it in Surrey has arrived – and local Culture Days ambassadors are encouraging everyone to participate.

“The idea is just trying to get people out and celebrate,” said Roxanne Charles, one of two women designated this year as a culture ambassador in Surrey.

“I see this weekend as an opportunity to grow and celebrate culture and the Semiahmoo Bay.”

Charles, a member of the Semiahmoo First Nation, and Lyn Verra-Lay – an artist and performer who has worked at the Surrey Arts Centre for about 20 years – were announced in June as among seven B.C Culture Day ambassadors. Each received $1,000 to put towards the production of their own Culture Days activity, both of which are set to take place this Saturday afternoon (Sept. 30).

Verra-Lay has organized an opportunity for artists of all ages to collaborate on a mixed-media piece that celebrates the Surrey Arts Centre, by adding recycled materials onto a pair of enlarged, archival photos of the original building. Patrons will also be invited to share their memories of the facility – whatever those may be – in a journal that is to be displayed at the centre’s semi-centennial celebrations.

“Just celebrating what the Surrey Arts Centre has been to the community… in the way of arts and culture,” Verra-Lay told Peace Arch News. “There was a lot of work that was done by a lot of people.”

The event is set for 1-5 p.m. at Central City Shopping Centre, 10153 King George Blvd.

Verra-Lay, who also co-ordinates the Youth Arts Council of Surrey, said she hopes youth in particular will check out a Canvas Coffee House that is also part of the weekend’s activities.

Scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Friday at the Newton Cultural Centre, it is to include an open mic, a visual art exhibition and dance lessons hosted by the Sudnya Dance Academy.

Charles’ event – Celebration of Semiahmoo Culture in Semiahmoo Bay – is to take place on the waterfront, and she said she is praying that the weather co-operates.

Set for noon till 6 p.m., it will include the sharing of traditional songs, dance, stories and food, as well as an opportunity to participate in a community weaving project.

There will also be a chance to try canoeing in Zapdos, a 24-foot clan-dancer canoe.

“He is three years old,” Charles said of the vessel, describing its inclusion in the event as significant.

The canoe’s history – and its intrinsic connection to youth – along with protocols for getting in and out of it, will be shared, she said.

Charles’ event is to take place on the grassy area in front of the former Tribes restaurant, located in the 15600-block of Marine Drive.

Both Charles and Verra-Lay lauded the increased opportunity they’ve had to promote culture, through their roles as cultural ambassadors.

Culture Days is a Canada-wide movement to raise awareness, accessibility and participation in arts and culture.

Free, interactive activities are planned throughout Metro Vancouver this weekend (Sept. 29-Oct. 1).

In Surrey, in addition to Verra-Lay’s and Charles’ events, those include a behind-the-scenes look at a competitive Bhangra dance practice, a Japanese floral design demonstration, opportunities to work alongside an artist, and more.

Two events are listed for White Rock: an opportunity to see how green-screen technology works and a demonstration of hand-stitched applique.

Both of those events are to take place at White Rock Library (155342 Buena Vista Ave.) on Friday.

For information on more events, visit the Culture Days website, www.culturedays.ca