Youngsters attend “Finnishing” school.

Sointula conference a real ‘shock’

Culture Shock Conference hosts Finnish play on Sointula.

SOINTULA—Students in Finland studying the country’s history are taught the story of Matti Kurrika, who traveled to Canada and attempted to create a utopian community called Sointula — which means “Place of Harmony” in Finnish.

A play — Sointula — has even been written about the story. But actors from Finland’s Masala Theatre Group were shocked when they were invited by organizers of last week’s Culture Shock Conference on Malcolm Island to perform in the town of the same name.

“When we invited them to perform the play here, they went, ‘Wait a minute, there is an actual place named Sointula that exists?’” said Annemarie Koch, one of the organizers of the event.

“The history books tell them of these places, but they’d always been told the colony failed.”

The youth theatre troupe’s appearance provided the entertainment centerpiece to the conference, but the many educators and speakers who addressed the concept of utopian communities — and Sointula in particular — were the meat and potatoes of the conference.

“I found it a real identity-affirming experience,” said local resident Shane Field, managing editor of Malcolm Island’s online newspaper, the Sointula Ripple. “We’re not pioneers, but many of us are

cooperative and have, I would say, almost socialist leanings. The weekend kind of affirmed in many ways why we live there.

“We realize it’s no utopian community -— there’s no such thing. But it’s gratifying to learn you live in a place that strives toward that.”

Field, who works for North Island Employment, also serves as managing editor for Sointula’s fledgling, two-year old online newspaper, the Sointula Ripple. The Ripple has provided coverage leading up to and following the Culture Shock conference, often with the a sensibility only a long-time resident can bring.

After ferrying and driving to Port Hardy Airport to pick up Jussi Puhakka, who played the key role of Matti, Jim Rosgen described his return to Malcolm Island.

“Imagine our surprise when we drove off the ferry to the full cast of the play standing on the side, singing what, as it turned out, was the song from the play where the settlers greeted Kurikka as he arrived on the island! At first we thought the welcome was for us as, after all, we had been gone for over five hours. But after the initial adrenaline rush we realized that Jussi was the main attraction.”

The conference, ironically, turned out to be something of  a history lesson, even for longtime residents.

Anne Curry, professor at the University of Alberta, shared information she had researched from many original sources, including what were known as “fist journals,” hand-written records that exist only in that form.

“She spoke of different forms of how information was chronicled, in Finnish, of people’s experiences and thoughts,” said Koch. “It was this amazing discussion.”

For more, check out the Ripple at sointularipple.ca.

 

Just Posted

People’s Party of Canada plan to have a candidate in the North Island-Powell River riding

Elections Canada formally recognized the North Island—Powell River PPC Association

NVIATS takes over NIEFS space in Thunderbird Mall

“We were approached by NIEFS, they’re going to be downsizing”

Port Hardy Reigns compete in Nanaimo at Island Championships

“We are very fortunate to have this opportunity for our youth in Port Hardy”

Derina Harvey Band – Heartfelt, Energetic, Celtic rock comes to Port Hardy

Front-woman Derina Harvey leads this Celtic-rock act, who offer an authentic east-coast experience.

OPINION: Urgent care room will cost lives

“Seniors, of any demographic, are the most vulnerable to the loss of emergency care.”

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Duncan-Nanaimo’s Funkanometry bow out of ‘World of Dance’ with ‘After Hours’ routine

Judges praised them as entertainers, and urged them to work a bit more on their dancing

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Most Read