Newton Enoch, a member of the cultural resources commission of Mission, and Val Billesberger, chair of the task group organizing Culture Days, sort more than 6,000 Culture Days bookmarks that will be distributed to schools throughout Mission. This year’s celebration takes place Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 across the district. In all, 42 events are planned in just three days. / Kevin Mills photo

Celebrating culture in Mission

Culture Days features 42 local events in three days

Mission’s arts and culture community is about to take centre stage as the eighth annual Culture Days celebration is set for Sept. 29 to Oct. 1.

This is a national event, but in Mission the focus is on local talent and venues.

Mission Culture Days 2017 is going to be different than any of the past events.

“This year we organized Culture Days into four different hubs,” said Val Billesberger, chair of the task group organizing the event.

“The reason we did that is it allows you to concentrate all of your events in one area so when people come, they can just walk to the next thing or they are in a venue where they are going to see a whole variety of things,” she explained.

The three-day celebration is going to be the biggest in Mission’s history as 42 events have been planned.

Newton Enoch, a member of the cultural resources commission of Mission, said by organizing the event geographically, families can go to more than one showcase.

“Yes, we want to have events that describe the different types of our culture, but we also wanted to deal with the problem, or potential problem, of diluting our events to the point that only five people will make it to each of them,” explained Enoch.

The four hubs are:

1. Mission downtown;

2. Fraser River Heritage Park;

3. Stave West (Steelhead and Stave Falls); and

4. A “Little Outside the Hubs.”

The first three categories speak for themselves, but the fourth hub encompasses all the other events that are still taking place in the surrounding area.

Like any community event, Billesberger said it is important to start with a bang.

“Our launch event for Culture Days is exciting news. We are going to have Xá:ytem open again this year.”

Leq’a:mel First Nation and Stó:lo Tourism will begin the festivities with a drumming ceremony and tours of the national historic site Xá:ytem. Visitors can experience and learn about Stó:lo-Coast Salish culture, history, legend, and archeology in a unique environment.

Xá:ytem is the site of an ancient settlement occupied by the ancestors of the Stó:lo between 5,000 and 9,000 years ago.

Billesberger said they have also partnered with the school district’s Aboriginal education program and will have students from Deroche attending the event.

Another new aspect to this year’s celebration is the use of the new Steelhead Community Hall, which opened last year.

“We have a whole program of events in Steelhead area.”

Events include music, art, dance, and even a demonstration pf 3-D modelling.

At Fraser River Heritage Park,the Roots and Blues Festival will be taking place as well as a cemetery tour.

“I’m very proud of what the task group has accomplished for Culture Days and Mission’s 125th birthday.”

Billesberger said the events are free to attend and there is something for everyone to enjoy.

“It is the only opportunity that I know of where we are showcasing the Mission arts and cultural community as a whole,” said Billesberger.

An example of some other events include:

q Artifacts Up Close: Come face to face with Mission’s fascinating history up close. Come chat with museum staff and take part in a “show and tell” presentation of the staff’s favourite artifacts.

q Pop-up Gallery and Artist Talk: Enjoy a cup of coffee from The Penny Cafe while learning about the creative process involved in the making of Brenna Maag’s current collection Observation of Wonder.

q Readings from “Reflections”: Lifetime Learning’s Wednesday Writers group has recently self-published an anthology of poetry and creative non-fiction.

For a complete list of all 42 events and locations, visit


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