Meet one of our Volunteers: Lavinia!

21 Oct

MIA Volunteer Lavinia with Bart Hanna's "Sedna with Tusk" (2009), Arctic marble, narwhal tusk, Sprott/MIA Collection

I came to Toronto for a long holiday. I then fell in love with Toronto. It was love at first sight. Therefore, I decided to try to spend my holiday in a Torontonian way, rather than in a typical tourist kind of way. I wanted a taste of Toronto at first and then I wanted a bigger bite. And so on, long story short, I got greedy. I made a lot of Torontonian friends that shared their secrets about the city with me. That is how I have learned about small cafes with great cappuccinos, intimate brunch places surrounded by great scenery, cosy pubs or fun clubs. In a few weeks, I was no longer a tourist. I felt like I belonged to the city, like I was away from home for so long and now I am finally back.

The next step I took in my life here in Toronto, was volunteering. I had several reasons to do that. First of all, not working on a daily basis proved to be a challenge I cannot handle easily. Apparently, long holidays are not my thing yet. Second of all, I wanted to try this level of Torontonian life which is the working environment. And last but not least, it is my way to thank this amazing city for being so welcoming and great.

I chose to volunteer in museums because back home I worked in a museum as well. I know my way around in a museum, I feel at ease. I visited the Museum of Inuit Art in the winter, maybe in February. I loved it. The first time I heard about Inuit art was back home. A museum in Romania hosted an Inuit art exhibition so I had the chance to get a bit familiar with the art. When I visited MIA I was amazed with the beauty of the displays. First thing I did when I got home, was to apply for volunteering. The museum replied back to me and ever since then, I have been dedicating my Friday mornings to MIA and I love it.

In my spare time, I am a story teller. I collect stories.  I am like a sponge absorbing all the stories that surround me. I write them down because there are too many and my biggest fear is that I will die one day with all these stories in me. When I learn about new cultures, the first thing I want to learn is their legends and myths.  I consider legends a reflection of the everyday life of a nation, of their genuine fears and beliefs.  I find it fascinating how things that cannot be fully comprehended turn into magic and supernatural.

By volunteering at MIA, I have learned about a few Inuit legends like The Legend of the Sea Goddess, The Legend of Kiviuq or The Story of the Blind Boy and the Loon. My very favourite is the first one.  Like many other nations that depend on the sea for their livelihood, Inuit have a creation myth for the Sea Goddess. According to this myth the moods of the Sea Goddess affect the relationship of Inuit with the sea. Inuit must obey rules in order for the Sea Goddess to be generous and release sea creatures. When they disobey, the Sea Goddess punishes them by not providing fish or by starting damaging storms. In these hard times, Inuit have to send a Shaman, a kind of ambassador, to tame the Sea Goddess so that they can continue their existence in peace.

My volunteering at MIA has just begun few weeks ago. I find Inuit art beautiful and unique. The staff working at MIA is amazing, helpful and ready to share their knowledge in art. I will take advantage of that while I am still in Canada. If I will ever go back, my experience with MIA would be one of my greatest memories in Toronto. If I get to stay, I just hope I will volunteer here for a long while.


Posted by: Karolina Tomaszewska, MIA’s Development Officer

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