Public Library gets the ball rolling on Asian Heritage Month

·3 min read

Karina Douglas-Takeyesu wants people to know about Timmins' roots.

During Asian Heritage month, she is leading an origami craft session on Tuesday, May 9, teaching teens and adults how to make a Kusudama, or petal ball.

"There is quite a bit of interest in different parts of Japanese culture right now," said Douglas-Takeyesu. "One of the things with paper folding, origami, it's relatively inexpensive, and you'll get your hands on it, and how do you make these flat circles into a beautiful ball?"

"Sometimes you see these projects, and they can be quite complicated depending on your background, but this is relatively easy to do," said ---. "This is made of 20 pieces of paper, and it looks quite complicated, but overall it's not too bad."

She said there will be aspects of the history of the craft in the session as well.

Douglas-Takeyesu says that there is a lot of history and connection to Asian cultures in the city, and it's worth digging into, for those who want a deeper dive.

"From Porcupine Camp onward, there have always been different Asian communities here," she said. "There's always been a lot of underpinning Asian influences, but they're kind of unsung."

Timmins' connection to Japan isn't just a matter of immigration, or history though.

The city has a sister city relationship with Naoshima, Japan.

Naoshima is a city of about 3,000 people, and is located in the Seto Island Sea.

"Ever since 1981, they formed this sistership with Naoshima, and it had one of the Mitsubishi manufacturing facilities," said Douglas-Takeyesu. "They designed the smelter used here at the KIDD Met Site."

There have been several trips from both cities' leadership, from Ontario to Japan and back again.

The last one was in August 2016, when a delegation from Naowhima visited Timmins to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the sistership.

"It's one of those things that is a little lesser known in Timmins," said Douglas-Takeyesu.

She said she hopes that events like the Kusudama session will pique people's interest in more than just the origami.

"I'm hoping this will get people curious about other things in Japanese culture, and again, maybe looking into our sister city," said Douglas-Takeyesu. "And it's always good for conversation too."

Working with paper is something that Douglas-Takeyesu got comfortable with during the pandemic.

"We worked from home from late March to mid-June in 2020, and 2020 was also the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," she said. "I decided to make a 1000 crane chain, because that is very strongly associated as a symbol of peace."

Douglas-Takeyesu was inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki who survived the bombings as a toddler, who died of leukemia at the age of 12.

She set a goal to fold 1000 paper cranes while undergoing treatment.

"When I started, it took me about 11 minutes to do one, and by the end it was about 3 minutes," she said.

The library will have books on display to celebrate Asian cultures throughout the month of May.

"We try to incorporate books into the activities," said Douglas-Takeyesu about the displays. "It may not be the ones that you necessarily see in the stories, so if people are curious, they can learn more.

All supplies will be provided to create the Kusudama, and registration is available online for the event.

It will take place on May 9, at 6 p.m. at the Timmins Public Library.

Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,