I’m scribing this letter in regards to your question re: why we think - culturally - our town is somewhere Q should come and celebrate. While it is my own thoughts and opinions, I hope that it will speak to and for others excited to welcome you and your team here.
First of all let me say how amazing it is to consider that the other cities are formulating strong responses with examples of culture. I love that all of these cities provide opportunity for us to delve deep into the richness of our Canada in different ways. I am so grateful to call Canada home and to be afforded the freedom to celebrate and actively engage in our amazing cultural diversity.
I lived in Kingston from 2005 – 2008. I just came back in July of 2011. What I love about Kingston is the opportunity it presents to us, each of us to engage in the development of making our community better, and the challenge to see past the limestone structures to what is just below the surface.
Much of the conversation around Kingston’s Culture focuses on our buildings and the history we have in relation to the development of Canada as a Nation. Many of the pictures we have tweeted and posted of mini Jian have been connected to historical buildings. This is one of the reasons I love Kingston. However there is so much more.
While some of these examples are ones that I posted on your wall two days ago, Kingston provides opportunity to talk about a) the prison farms and restoring communities. b) the Kingston writers fest and the value of local/community talent. c) island commuter communities: WOLFE island and how they are doing amazing things to enrich community. d) hockey and Canada...the first game of hockey in Canada was played here. e) fine arts program at Queens getting cancelled. f) awesome Kingston - $1000 grants for great ideas to better Kingston...........
Moreover, we live out our celebration of culture through a significant number of culturally defined organizations. http://www.cityofkingston.ca/residents/culture/links/index.asp. The list is long. The list is diverse. The list is not complete. What is important to highlight that many of these organizations are supported by and impact our community (our thoughts, our perspective) because of volunteers, people who want Kingston to be about something more than just a City that hosted the first hockey game, was the 1st capital of Canada and was the 1st city in the province of Ontario.
A really strong of example of how we live out our culture is through the Kingston Multicultural festival. What I love is that the people of Kingston have creatively found ways to celebrate and express the vast cultures that make our city home. https://www.facebook.com/kmaf2011
I can list for you all the committees that we have, the buildings that some say define our culture. For there is a vast and beautiful list of artist that we have coming through Kingston some at the Grand Theater, some at Sydneham United Church, some in lecture halls on campuses, some in public libraries, some in the screening room and some wherever they can find a place to be heard.
I do however believe that this list will only be complete when you reflect on the sentiments that Mohandas Gandhi shared when he said that “A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people”.
And Jian, I believe that while Kingston boasts amazing talents that have made their way to national and international levels, we also boast people who care deeply about sharing identities and values with each other, who want to find space to display those identities and values. These are people who will continue to work together and live together who will never make it to the Grand Theater or to The Sound Academy or to The O’Keefe Centre but will be part of the story that gets told to our children, and to their children. This story will be about how ordinary, talented people with a passion in their soul for the arts and for culture continued to stay focused and committed to ideals in such a trying time when culture wasn’t to be a topic of conversation. It will be a story that says our Canada is creative and caring and diverse because of people who in cities like Kingston expressed the heart of their nation.
So Jian, come hang out with us here in Kingston and hear our stories, challenge our understandings and celebrate with us our amazing community and how we are making it better one day at a time.