Shannon Markle spends many of her days focused on introducing people to the unique culture of Cambridge.
As the coordinator of volunteer and newcomer services for the Idea Exchange, Markle understands how building an inclusive place to live benefits everyone.
In a city that prides itself on that, she’s excited to kickoff Cambridge’s version of Culture Days, a nation wide festival, later this week that will run until Oct. 15.
“Our mission is that we support and inspire our community in the exploration of reading, arts, innovation and learning,” Markle said.
“It’s a great mission if you ask me. Culture Days in particular are a great way to bring attention to different ideas and cultures. It’s something I get to do every day.”
One of the events Markle is most looking forward to is “Art Cart for Truth and Reconciliation.”
This public art display in the lobby of the Queen’s Square Idea Exchange encourages the community to add to a growing collage of orange ribbons to show solidarity with Indigenous peoples and communities.
Markle believes it's important to emphasize that in order to understand our culture, making it accessible is critical. That’s why two events coming up this week are intriguing, she says.
On Sept. 19, former Cambridge Reporter journalist Kevin Swayze is doing a presentation on the 20 year anniversary of the closure of the local paper.
Later in the week on Sept. 24, the community can enjoy stories from Tales from an Old Hespeler Girl written by Becky Alexander. The local author grew up in Hespeler during the 1950s and 60s.
“The average Canadian isn't aware of how vital local community reporting is to maintaining culture,” Markle said.
“We have to have opportunities to look at our own culture and people aren't seeing that. It’s important for newcomers to connect with their news."
The beautiful part of the month-long celebration is that it’s a fairly broad concept, meaning it’s up to individuals to decide what they’d like to take part in, Markle says.
“I hope people understand that we're constantly in the process of creating and recreating our own culture and that culture is something we need to be aware of and invest in,” she said.
“I’d love to see people get involved and understand that every small act of engaging in local culture in a cognizant way is a way that we affirm its importance and continue to build it.”
For more information on the Idea Exchange activities and events happening during Culture Days visit ideaexchange.org.