IllumiNATION Festival puts spotlight on P.E.I. culture during Games

Organizer Kim Doyle says the festival includes programming from tip to tip. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)
Organizer Kim Doyle says the festival includes programming from tip to tip. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)

Islanders and visitors alike will have plenty to do between now and March 5, with the Canada Games underway.

Apart from the 20 different sports being played in venues across Prince Edward Island, there are other events happening too, including the IllumiNATION Festival, which features arts, music and cultural exhibits.

Festival organizer Kim Doyle says the family-friendly events offer something for everyone, even those not big on sports.

"We wanted to light up the night in Charlottetown, and also [bridge] our nations together from coast to coast," she said. "So we are really illuminating our whole nation."

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC

Many of the events take place near Charlottetown's waterfront. Visitors there can enjoy fire pits, ice sculptures and even a game of crokicurl — which blends the popular Island pastime of crokinole with curling.

Doyle notes there are other events planned right across the province.

"We have tip-to-tip programming," she said. "There's great tastes and tales and tunes all across the Island."

Cultural experiences at port

At the Seaport Centre in Charlottetown on Monday, visitors got a lesson in porcupine quill art from members of the Lennox Island First Nation.

"We're using this opportunity to teach about some of our culture, some of our cultural ways. So we started off with a prayer," said Jamie Thomas, director of culture and tourism for the Lennox Island First Nation.

Thomas said visitors will have a chance to learn about Mi'kmaw culture throughout the week, with sessions including storytelling and an introduction to basket making.

"Everyone talks about reconciliation, and one of the most important things we can do to achieve reconciliation is to learn, is to become educated, to learn about the history, to learn about the truth — and what better way to do that than a hands-on experience?" she said.

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC

Sneha Sunderam with the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. said the cultural experiences at the market are valuable for Islanders and visitors alike.

"I think learning about culture is very important, no matter what culture you learn," she said.

"I'm a person who loves to follow traditions, so only if you let people know about what your culture is will you be able to follow that as well."