Sauble Beach, Ont., is the location of the Cahoots faith and justice festival. CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

Festival brings faith to sand and surf

By  Sarah Swist, Youth Speak News
  • May 15, 2014

Young people can head to the beach this spring for a festival of faith, justice and do-it-yourself activities. From May 29 to June 1, people of all ages will descend on the Silver Lake Mennonite Camp in Sauble Beach, Ont., for the Cahoots festival.

Cahoots is a festival where people will be able to explore faith and justice in a safe environment. It will explore some specific issues — how faith communities struggle for justice, how Christians can stay strong and resilient to oppose injustice while building a new world and what it means to be a follower of Christ in an age of injustice. The last topic focuses strongly on cuts to essential social services, destruction of land and the poisoning of our water, deportation of migrants and refugees and the further commercialization of our prison system.

“The main purpose of Cahoots is to create a safe space where people can learn, question and discuss about a variety of issues on faith and social justice,” said Sarah Mikhaiel, the general secretary of the Student Christian Movement and one of the key organizers of the festival.

Organizers want to increase peoples’ knowledge of the radical and revolutionary life of Jesus. They hope to encourage people to engage in their faith from not only a spiritual perspective, but also a social perspective. Cahoots strives to increase the leadership skills of people in faith and social justice, and to strengthen their understanding and knowledge of faith and how it relates to radical social action and radical living. They hope to do all this and to enhance their connection between their networks and the attendees.

Cahoots is organized by two faith-based groups: the Student Christian Movement and the Beansprout Collective. The Student Christian Movement is a youth- and student-led grassroots network passionate about social justice, community in diversity and radical faith in action. The Beansprout Collective focuses on social justice, Christianity and art in Southern Ontario under the umbrella of Christian Radical thought.

“In previous years, solely the Student Christian Movement ran the festival. Although this year we’ve teamed up with the Beansprout Collective, another network of young adults to make the festival more diverse,” said Mikhaiel.

Although Cahoots does greatly focus on justice and faith, it does so in a way to appeal to everyone. It is an all-aged festival so adults are allowed to bring their children and youths under 18 who bring a parent or guardian can attend. For children aged two-12 years-old there will be workshops on sewing and crafts. Cahoots will also have many workshops open for adults separated into four main categories: Theology and Justice, Faith into Action, From the Frontlines, and DIY and Arts.

The festival will have various musical talent to help lead worship and singing and to entertain. The acts set to perform are The Most Loyal, Zwieback, Next Church, The Commons, Richard Garvey and The Gospel of Barn Owl. There will also be an open mike night and an Ol’ Campfire Gospel Hootenanny Sing-a-long.

The cost of tickets is $65 per person, although prices vary depending on whether attendees wish to drive themselves to the site or to take a bus that organizers have chartered. The bus will be leaving from downtown Toronto on May 29 and will return the following Sunday.

For more information, visit the Cahoots Fest web site at www.cahootsfest.ca.

(Swist, 16, is a student at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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