Music, food and Indigenous art just a few ways southwestern Manitoba is celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial

Starting this August, folks passing by the corner of Rosser and 7th Street in downtown Brandon, Manitoba, will have reason to pause and look up. That’s when the first of two billboards created by Indigenous artists living in the province will be unveiled on the side of the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba.

“We’ve never had an artistic showcase of this magnitude on the outside of a building in the city,” says Laura Kempthorne, general manager of the Brandon Area Community Foundation (BACF), the organization that facilitated the project’s funding. The opening presentation of these two works—one by established Oglala-Sicangu Lakota artist Colleen Cutschall and the other by emerging Métis artist Jamie Black—will be a festive block party filled with music, food and new friendships.

This high-impact project, which is funded through the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, is just one of four that BACF helped get going to celebrate the country’s heritage for its sesquicentennial anniversary. On May 16th, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra put on two educational concerts featuring culturally diverse works. In September, the Assiniboine Food Forest will hold a BBQ party to launch “Planting a Legacy,” a one-acre orchard dedicated to pesticide-free fruit trees. And lastly, in October, the Daly House Museum will mount an exhibition of historic photography depicting Dominion Day sporting events, First Nations demonstrations at the Brandon Summer Fair and more.

The BACF has been active in the community since 1965, but Kempthorne says one great benefit to these new events is a broader awareness among area residents and non-profits—along with an introduction to the full scope of community foundations across the country. “Some knew about us, but didn’t know that we’re one part of an octopus of arms and legs,” she says. “So this is a huge deal for us, and we’re extremely happy to be the connector between the Community Foundations of Canada and these projects.”

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