LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON
For Open Sky Creative Society president Lindsay Waugh, art is contagious. Whether that art takes the form of music, visual or hand-crafted work is irrelevant - what's important is the artist learning about who they are as a person.
Open Sky Creative Society president Lindsay Waugh, left, and executive director Roxanna Thompson receive an award from Education, Culture and Employment Minister Alfred Moses. - photo courtesy of Angela Gzowski
Whether that art takes the form of music, visual or hand-crafted work is irrelevant - what's important is the artist learning about who they are as a person.
Waugh and Open Sky executive director Roxanna Thompson spent Nov. 1 in Yellowknife, where they accepted the Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle award on behalf of the society, which was nominated in the award's group category by Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson.
The society's programming includes arts workshops throughout the year and a festival in the summer, as well as a gallery.
"This award, for our community and for Open Sky, is huge," Waugh said.
"It was just a special day."
Despite the whirlwind trip, Waugh found himself taking the time to appreciate the small things - a beautiful bouquet of flowers at the ceremony; three drummers singing a prayer to open the event.
A lifetime of experience in the arts world has taught Waugh to see the beauty in each day. Waugh is one of the founding members of the society, which is now entering its 17th year.
He is known in the region for channeling the Deh Cho into song and currently has two CDs released.
The award's importance, he said, goes beyond recognizing the role Open Sky plays in the community. It also recognizes the importance of art to the North.
"It's sort of a history of who you are in the moment, and more than that it gives people the opportunity to draw out their passions and connect (with each other)," he said.
"I feel it's very important that people find out what makes them tick and explore who they are."
The society's longevity, he said, puts it in a position to bring multiple art forms to people in an accessible way.
"People are sometimes intimidated to try, no matter their age ... but it's never too late to explore, and it's never too early," he said.
"If they find that passion and work at it ... that creates self esteem."
As for his own creative process, three days each week Waugh walks the perimeter of Fort Simpson to appreciate the natural beauty of the area.
"You've got to be able to see the raven playing in the wind," he said. "We, collectively, have to be able to see the beauty."
The Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle gives out awards each year, with recipients decided by a committee including the Department of Education, Culture and Employment as well as people from the arts community.