14/19 views Syrian night as beginning for community - May 3, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Organizers hope that last week’s special Syrian dinner and documentary film night at Memorial Hall will be the start of something big in Blyth.
Peter Smith of the Blyth Arts and Culture Initiative and the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity, which hosted the event, said the event really went a long way to connecting members of the community.
Muna Merai from Guelph was on hand to cook authentic Syrian dishes for those who attended, while members of Blyth’s culinary community, like Allison Elligsen, Lisa Bromley and Cat O’Donnell used the event to learn a little bit about Syrian culture.
Not only have Smith and the cooks received numerous compliments in regards to the quality of the food, but it also served as a learning experience for those on both sides of the dining room.
Smith said that he’ll remember it simply as another special night in the village of Blyth. He said that everyone was really engaged with the dinner and with the documentary films that were shown and he feels that it’s an experiment that can only serve to grow.
The group has its hands full right now planning for numerous future events, but Smith hopes that the dinner and documentary nights will become a series that can be held at Memorial Hall for years to come.
Smith said there is interest in hosting Forgotten, a documentary about the Bernardo children, due to their ties to several local families. He hopes that when documentaries are shown at the hall, that a meal would correspond with the subject matter on the big screen.
There was a great reaction to the films shown last week, Smith said, including one about immigration that spoke to the theme of the night.
Not only were documentary films on the agenda for the special night last week, but Walton’s Nic Vinnicombe, who has been working with the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity, is in the process of making a documentary on Merai, which is being done through work with the centre.
Vinnicombe was on hand last week to document the cooking process and the night at Memorial Hall and plans on taking it even further. Smith said he hopes that Vinnicombe’s documentary can be shown at one of these nights in the future.
Smith and the rest of the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity gang are currently working on the return of Rural Talks To Rural; a conference based on rural topics across the country.
The first conference was held in Blyth in 2016 to much acclaim and it’s due to return to the village Oct. 16-19.
While Smith hopes to explore a number of different topics, the theme will be “Rural Resilience” and the conference will feature a day celebrating rural women.
For more information on the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity or the upcoming Rural Talks To Rural conference, visit the centre’s website at ruralcreativity.org.