Celebrated author Margaret Atwood will unveil a new Moon themed story at the Canadian Moon Festival this summer. The festival is normally held in in London, United Kingdom, but will be entirely digital this year.
Last year, it felt like the Moon was mostly American news. The Apollo 11 anniversary prompted celebrations across the United States, including bathing the Washington Monument in a light show that projected the Saturn V Moon rocket across the monument’s side. Even here in Canada, six astronauts went to six science museums across the country on July 20, 2019, 50 years after Apollo 11’s landing, to talk about the American Moon landing’s significance.
But Moon exploration does have a Canadian side. Let’s not forget it was Quebec company Héroux’s legs (the company is now Héroux-Devtek) that touched down on the Moon first in 1969, attached to the Eagle lunar lander. Avro Arrow engineers helped NASA planned Apollo’s Moon landings between 1969 and 1972. Also, Canada was the first country to sign on as a partner to the United States’ Gateway space station plan, in an announcement in February 2019. Gateway is part of the American infrastructure to put boots on the Moon again by 2024, if funding and politics all go to plan.
Even before the Space Age, the Moon held cultural significance in Cree and Anishinaabe cultures in Canada, according to CBC News. For example, one Anishinaabe story tells of the first mother, called Nokomis or Grandmother Moon, who lived in the heavens near her daughter, Mother Earth. The heavenly perch of Nokomis allowed her to watch her children and to care for them – whether plant, animal or human.
The festival promises to celebrate “all things lunar” across time and cultures, according to the Moon Festival’s website. This year, the festival will go digital and partner with the High Commission of Canada in London to do a Canadian-focused series of events.
Kicking off the activities will be Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who will read an unpublished Moon-themed story. Atwood was part of the Moon Festival last year as well, delivering a keynote amid a discussion about women and their connection to the Moon in various cultures.
In the Space Age, it should not be forgotten that women were key to NASA’s push to the Moon. Human “computers” – including African-American women highlighted in the book and movie “Hidden Figures” – performed the vital calculations for the Apollo astronauts to reach the Moon safely. Further, the first female in Mission Control, Poppy Northcutt, helped the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 astronauts with navigating back home during their famous Moon mission.
Other participants in this year’s festival will include environmental activist Alanna Mitchell, Inuk Elder artist Manasiah Akpaliapik, and singer Janet Fischer. While the full schedule has not been announced yet, the Moon Festival’s website has a newsletter available to subscribe for updates, and more updates will be coming soon on its Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds.
The festival is being held July 3 to August 3.