Couch to embark on country-wide tour

By Nathan Caddell

The artist behind a cross-Canada tour of a red couch to promote the country’s 150th birthday and encourage citizens to “tell their stories” calls the $155,000 granted in federal funding for the project “a drop in the bucket.”

The Red Couch Tour was granted the cash under the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada 150 Fund. The tour will see the scarlet sofa travel the country in an effort to encourage Canadians to sit and tell their stories.

The $210-million Canada 150 fund has allocated $80 million for signature projects, $100 million for community-driven projects, $20 million for major events and $10 million for the Federal Secretariat for Canada 150.

Total federal funding for Canada 150, however, will be more than $500 million. This includes the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, which has pledged $300 million to “fix up public facilities and for community infrastructure, culture and recreation,” including free access to Canada’s national parks for 2017.

“Canada spends tons of money on public opinion polls to try and figure out what we like and don’t like, and it’s $155,000 — which is a drop in the bucket, really. This is probably the most important public poll that we undertake in a sense,” said Ela Kinowska.

Kinowska and her partner, Peter Sobierajski, are Ottawa-based artists. The Polish-born immigrants say the couch tour will start in March with stops in Winnipeg and Churchill, Man., before heading north to Iqaluit, Yellowknife, and Whitehorse.

In June and July, the sofa will board an RV for an eight-week trip from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia, stopping along the way in community centres and public spaces.

Cameras will record the famous and not-so-famous describing what Canada means to them. The public will be able to track the couch’s journey online.

But not everyone is getting comfortable with the idea of a sofa sojourn.

This story was produced in collaboration with iPolitics.

But, the couch — that one was a bit of an eyebrow raiser.

Kinowska believes that the tour will be valuable for Canadians of all stripes to have a conversation about what unites them.

“Instead of going to peoples’ living rooms, we’re taking it to them. And the living room is the most important part of the Canadian home,” she said.