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COLUMN: Local elder will bring forgotten story of fish fence to life

Mark Douglas, a gifted storyteller, will talk about the cultural importance of the ancient Indigenous artifact at the Narrows as part of World Storytelling Day
Storytelling Orillia has a big event coming up on March 20, which is World Storytelling day. Giiwniikewag miinwaa Giimkaajigaazowag: Lost, Forgotten and Found, features local Indigenous storyteller Mark Douglas, above, telling the story of the Fish Fence at the Narrows.

Welcome to the last arts column of February 2022. So exciting to think that spring is just around the corner, and hopefully a (mostly) non-COVID spring at that. Speaking of exciting, there are some exciting announcements and events coming up, so let’s go!

Sustainable Orillia is having an art contest. There will be three cash prizes in each of three categories: General; High School; and Elementary School. The theme for the contest is Orillia 2050 — A Sustainable City.

The contest asks the artists to look at what Orillia and area would look like in 2050, after 28 years of working the way we are, to reduce the consequences of the climate crisis. Different media is fine, so, not just paint or photos. So, lots of scope there for artists to get very creative. The contest starts March 1, whereupon you can find lots more information on it, at Good luck!

March 1 is also the first night for the Lakehead University’s Office of Community Engagement’s latest offering, Truth and Reconciliation: Community Dialogues. This five-part Zoom series, put together with the help of the folks in Orillia’s Truth and Reconciliation Roundtable, features different Indigenous elders sharing their stories and wisdom, and opportunities to reflect, react and connect.

The hope at the end is that there will be a community Truth and Reconciliation project flowing out of the series. The series is free, at 7 p.m., and you can register here to get the Zoom link.

March 1 is also the due date for pieces for Hibernation Arts’ women’s show, Of Women, featuring art not only by, but also about, women. Work can be two or three-dimensional, not larger than 24 inches. Contact Molly at for more details.

Storytelling Orillia has a big event coming up on March 20, which is World Storytelling day. Giiwniikewag miinwaa Giimkaajigaazowag: Lost, Forgotten and Found, features local Indigenous storyteller Mark Douglas telling the story of the fish fence at the Narrows.

This will be an online event. Mark will be recorded telling the story in person to a group of Indigenous young people in Rama earlier in the day, and then the online audience will be able to see this in the evening event. This story was lost before, so this recording will ensure it will never be lost again.

The event begins at 7 p.m. and is pay-what-you-can. Click here to register for this very special evening. Mark is a gifted storyteller, this will be one for the books for sure.

Of course, we are all excited to see that our beloved homegrown festival, Roots North, is a go, in-person, this year. Roots North will be April 22 and 23, and features these wonderful performers at the main stage at St. Paul’s Centre: Good Lovelies, Steve Poltz, Terra Lightfoot, Logan Staats, Lydia Persaud, and our own Craig Mainprize.

There will also be lots of talent during the daytime, in various locations downtown, so stay tuned for more information on that. For main stage tickets, go here.

Live music is also making a comeback in some of our local eateries, so keep an eye out for different artist announcements as things open up even more. Heads up, although the vaccine requirement for event spaces and restaurants will be dropped by the Ontario government March 1, this doesn’t necessarily mean all local eateries and event spaces will be dropping it on that date. Businesses can decide to keep it going, that is their right. So just keep an eye on social media to see if any local businesses go that route.

Have a great last week of February, and let’s go spring! If you have arts news, send it to by Tuesday at noon to be included.