Winter Carnival in Kanesatake

·3 min read

After a series of virtual holiday activities, Kanesatake is once again doing its best to keep the community safe, by adapting another annual event. Kanesatake’s latest edition of its Winter Carnival is taking social media by storm.

From February 14-28, Kanehsata’kehró:non are invited to take part in various events, from their own backyard or houses to ensure the respect of safety measures. Along with Tsi Ronterihwanónhnha ne Kanien’kéha Language and Cultural Centre and the Kanesatake Health Centre, the carnival is organized by the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) as a way to offer the community a chance to blow off some steam, keep active during the cold days, and fight off winter’s depression.

“We wanted to get people’s minds on something else and show them something positive, because community and social interaction is an important part of staying healthy,” said the spokesperson of the ERU Robert Bonspiel.

Bonspiel explained that due to the pandemic, the regular schedule had to be reconsidered in order for it to be COVID-proof. The biggest obstacle was undeniably the lack of social interaction, Bonspiel continued, as there are usually large gatherings during the Winter Carnival - an aspect that made the task to organize the event more complicated than usual.

“That’s always the first preoccupation of any organization in the community: security. Especially with social distancing,” he said.

This being said, Bonspiel explained that they are doing their best to stay truthful to what was done in the past in the community, to keep morale up.

The carnival started off last Sunday, on Valentine’s Day, with its version of The Great Kanesatake Bake Off. This is a competition where community members are asked to whip up and decorate their favourite desserts under the theme of Valentine’s Day. Each day, the ERU will be posting suggested activities on its Facebook page, such as the Kanien’héha scavenger hunt, the making of arts, ice ornaments and sculptures or Kanesatake’s rising stars; a challenge where community members can submit a video of themselves for this year’s talent show.

While most challenges are open to participants until the last day of the carnival, Kanehsata’kehró:non Jasmin Gunn didn’t want to wait longer than necessary to enter the contests. With her fun blue octopus hairstyle circulating on social media under the hashtag #kanesatakewintercarnival2021, the 36-year-old woman was hard to miss.

“It’s the middle of winter and with no concerts and no theatres, this is the entertainment,” she said. Gunn participated in the bake-off, along with the crazy hair day. She said she sees the virtual carnival as a way to stay connected with her community.

Throughout the month, people will be able to share online photos of their creations as a way to participate in the challenges.

“People were reluctant at first. They didn’t know what to expect, but they are slowly adapting to it,” said Bonspiel. “We are happy to see more interaction.”

And would a carnival truly be one without prizes?

“That, you will just have to come and see!” said Bonspiel.

Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door