COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Celes Davar talks to singer Kayla Luky before a performance Saturday evening in Wasagaming as part of Occupy Winter activities in Riding Mountain National Park. The evening concert and potluck joined other activities such as kite flying, a night sky watching walk, skiing and childrens games in an effort to publicize winter activities in Riding Mountain National Park in the wake of federal funding cuts.
Occupy Winter invaded Riding Mountain National Park this weekend turning the national park into a hot bed of winter activity and activism.
"Occupy Winter is a response to the federal Parks Canada cuts to winter services," Celes Davar said. "We wanted to start a national campaign to draw attention to the fact that this is a missed opportunity and that the parks in Canada are great places for celebrating the Canadian identity."
On Saturday, more than 100 people showed up at Moon Lake Campground to snowshoe and cross-country ski and try their hand at building quinzees.
"It’s been a cold Manitoba weekend and some of the people even slept overnight in the quinzee that they built," Davar said.
While quinzees were being built, Brandon artist Weiming Zhao painted scenes from the national treasure.
"It’s probably -35 C with the windchill and Weiming is out painting with oil paints on a canvas and it’s incredible," Davar said.
The artist is just part of a diverse sub-culture that exists at RMNP, making it truly unique.
And while Zhao painted, Grandview singer-songwriter Kayla Luky sang the song that she wrote and composed about the Occupy Winter movement and RMNP.
The event, which coincides with National Snow Day, highlights Riding Mountain’s many winter activities, bringing families together for a weekend of fun.
"The great thing about winter and the park is when you get out into the bush, you don’t feel the same cold as you do when you are out in the wind," Davar said.
The movement also has very strong political undertones and takes it’s name from the Occupy Wall Street protests that happened in cities around the world last year.
"The name Occupy Winter was intented to draw on the greater occupy movement," Davar said. "It’s not just a protest, it’s really about showing, as Canadians, that we love our parks."
Davar will also soon present Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette Robert Sopuck a local petition that has garnered more than 650 names of people requesting that the government re-visit cuts made to national parks.
"We aren’t happy with what has taken place," Davar said. "We expected more from (MP Sopuck) and we expected more from this government. And we want Parks Canada to listen to us and reverse this three-seasons designation at our national parks."
"It gives Canadians a weekend to tell Parks Canada that we love our parks and we love our four seasons."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 21, 2013