The idea was inspired by the city of Cork in Ireland, which holds its own festival of lifelong learning, a community-led annual event.
In 2014, one of SFU’s senior vice presidents visited the city and was so impressed by the grassroots event she suggested to Burnaby City Council to hold a similar version here.
Last year, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was not held.
This year, it makes a triumphant return—that adheres to public health guidelines—thanks to an innovative, online portal called Hopin.
Festival director Tara Flynn says Hopin will allow those attending to take part and view presentations, hear speakers address topics, and even take part in discussions.
And what will be offered?
“The Burnaby Festival of Learning is created by community and for the community,” Flynn says. “Through vibrant and thought-provoking events, the festival provides attendees of all ages with opportunities to join, play, question and explore virtual events that celebrate the exciting initiatives that Burnaby has to offer.
“Come meet local experts in an open, enlivening and creative environment.”
While the community submissions have suggested a wide variety of topics, Flynn says two of the more popular ones focused on community-based art projects and presentations that offer perspective on diversity and equity.
“We will have something for everyone. There’s programming for children and teens which includes an array of learning opportunities in science, art, language and well-being,” Flynn says, adding, “plus, there is a plethora of lifelong learning experiences for adults, seniors, and specific programs that provide diversity and knowledge sharing from underrepresented voices. We have several Indigenous led talks and walks, as well as events offering community-building opportunities for newcomers and refugees, and so much more.”
Essentially, all you have to do is bring your curiosity, check out the events being offered, choose those that interest you, and log in to open up a whole new world of learning.
“Since we had to cancel last year, I can see the community is really hungry for this event demonstrated by the sheer number of proposals that came forward. There are more community members deeply involved on the planning committee this year, and their passion and commitment to the City of Burnaby is evident,” Flynn says.
For more information on how you can attend and take part, visit the Burnaby Festival of Learning website at festivaloflearning.ca.