Using the power of culture to unite, The Arrivals Project combines the creativity of intuition and the hard facts of genealogy research to create a series of workshops designed to explore ancestry and spark creative processes.

Participants beware — this is no family tree jaunt. This is a roots and soul search. It is a chance to delve deeply into what your family believed in, what rituals they practised, and who they were before their cultures were immersed in the vastness of North American culture.

Ancestors have much to share and the stories left untold can be discovered through guided research and family interviews, all part of participating in The Arrivals Project, by urban ink productions.

The workshops take place at The Old Fire Hall from May 27 to 31 and is facilitated by Jude Wong, Leonard Linklater, urban ink Artistic Director Diane Roberts and Aboriginal Community Director Rose Georgeson.

Together, they will guide participants through family histories and hopefully into a creative process with vocal and artistic exercises.

Discovering your family history can be life-altering, says co-facilitator Jude Wong. It can be emotional, disturbing, enlightening and freeing.

During her Personal Legacy work, she developed a stronger relationship with her family, as well as her ancestors.

“As a performance artist, I wanted to move in the language of my ancestors, which is Cantonese. I interviewed Cantonese-speaking residents in Chinatown with my father, and by dinner time, he had opened up so much, telling me stories of my grandfather that he had never mentioned before.”

Exploring the facets of heritage and family can take any form, as long as participants are eager and committed.

The workshops are designed to spur creativity, so that oftentimes participants come out with ideas for projects using what they’ve learned of their family legacy.

Wong came out of her workshop with ideas as well. “I want to work with movement, with our language. I also am interested in film, as one of our meetings was filmed and recording the creative process is something that calls to me.”

Gwaandak Theatre, host of this urban ink workshop, may hold a public display to showcase the works that issue forth from the process.

Wong emphasizes the need to connect with one’s culture through research, witness and emotion: “Our ancestors may have had more unity and meaningful relationships with each other, more than we do now. Our rituals today are turkey dinners and consumerism, and I think it is important we bring back the richness our cultures had,” she says.

“We need to connect with each other better culturally.”

The leap into Personal Legacy is a commitment. Wong laughs. “Once you’ve begun, you keep going. There are so many sides to a person’s heritage. It is a life-long process.”

While not new to the rest of the world, The Arrivals Project is a unique one, and this is the second workshop held in Whitehorse. Workshops are held throughout Canada, and for more information, visit www.urbanink.ca.