Mann Art Gallery donating kits for P.A. children to celebrate Canada Day

The Mann Art Gallery is providing Canada Day-themed art kits to the Bernice Sayese Centre. After collecting their own sticks from outside, children can make a shaker using the beads, pipe cleaner and ribbon provided in the kits. (Danielle Castle/Submitted)

The Mann Art Gallery is hoping to put smiles on the faces of Prince Albert children with Canada Day-themed art kits.

The gallery is donating 190 kits to the Bernice Sayese Centre, each containing a variety of red, white and pink coloured beads, pipe cleaner and ribbon to make a shaker with a tree branch.

Acting Educator Danielle Castle said she submitted a video demonstration of the art project for the Prince Albert Multicultural Council to feature in its virtual Canada Day event.

She figured it would only make sense to distribute kits that went along with the video.

“The gallery’s just looking for ways to connect with the population. Typically, we have our free family art days every month, but we haven’t been able to do that. So this is our way of engaging the community without having to have an in-person community event,” said Castle.

Through those free art days, Castle said it’s clear how many families in the city don’t have access to art supplies—and some of the basics, like those in the kit, can make the world of a difference in allowing a child to express their creativity.

That’s why the Mann Art Gallery doesn’t require an admission fee, so that the public has access to art regardless of their financial situation.

Castle said staff began putting the kits together last week in hopes that they would keep a handful of children entertained on a day that they’re normally gathering with others to play games or get their faces painted.

“I just really hope that they’re excited and able to work on something creative, something that’s fun, gives them something to do. A little way to engage them in Canada Day, too, since there’s no Canada Day events because typically everyone goes to the Canada Day celebration. There’s none of that.”

In-person celebrations are limited this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Prince Albert Legion had to cancel its events in Kinsmen Park, it’s opting for a drive-in fish fry. It will also do its annual Canada Day draw at its building on Eighth Street East.

The Prince Albert Multicultural Council is still highlighting local organizations and artists through its virtual celebration, which will be streamed from noon to 9:30 p.m. on its Facebook page.

Castle said she thought of providing art kits to other community organizations a while ago, and now seemed like the perfect time to put the idea into action.

The kits will benefit nearly 200 children through the Community Cares Kitchen, a partnership between the Prince Albert Grand Council Urban Services, The Gate at Access Place and INDIGital.

The initiative was developed to fill food security gaps as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s set to continue afterwards as well, feeding elders and other vulnerable residents.