Common Weal Community Arts

I know absolutely that art is a healing force in this world, and I am so grateful to Common Weal for providing opportunities for art to change.

— Chrystene Ells —



Hello In There offers opportunities for self-expression amidst loss, and for achievement and re-engagement.

Hello In There is engaging senior citizens living in residential facilities through artist-led workshops. The participants are invited to share their personal narratives, life stories, and memories, and assisted in making a selected story or memory accessible to others through a personal art project.

Art programs for senior citizens have been proven to have great benefits, both for the individuals involved and for society in general.

For participants, these programs provide tangible physical and mental health benefits by creating opportunities for participation in a larger community and for maintaining physical strength and coordination. The arts can help build understanding, offer opportunities for self-expression amidst loss, and for achievement and re-engagement. During Hello In There, we have repeatedly observed and heard stories of the great successes of the program, in the lives of the project participants and their families.

Starting Year

  • 2013


  • Chrystene Ells
  • Berny Hi
  • Rowan Pantel

Project Locations

  • Lumsden
  • Regina

# of Participants

  •  145

Youngest Participant

  • 72 yrs

Oldest Participant

  •  101 yrs

# of Artist-led Workshops

  •  40

# of Life Stories Shared

  • 290


  • Elmview Extendicare
  • William Booth Special Care Home
  • Lumsden and District Heritage Home


  • Community Initiatives Fund
  • The City of Regina
  • Great West Life
photo credit: Berny Hi

photo credit: Berny Hi


I am an interdisciplinary artist and prairie transplant who’s fallen in love with the warm, engaged, and explorative local arts community. I know absolutely that art is a healing force in this world. What I have realized through working with seniors is that, generally speaking, they have no time for pretense, for procrastinating, for being high-minded or pretentious. There is a sense of immediacy, of the importance of engaging directly and completely with the job of telling the stories, of making the art, of sharing their messages with the world. No one theorizes about their project or opines about its importance or its meaningfulness. Often, participants haven’t had an opportunity to express their feelings, but the act of art making, and having a willing ear beside them, allows them to express themselves. These therapeutic reckonings in the spaces between the activities give the project even more depth.

Photo Credit: Gerry Ruecker

Photo Credit: Gerry Ruecker


I am a filmmaker, performer, and visual artist who is endlessly fascinated by nature and aspects of the human experience: beauty, sensation, and our unique perception of time and space. Common Weal projects empower communities by providing opportunities to be expressive, to make creative decisions, and to be in control. These opportunities produce a shift in the participants’ everyday lives. This project has fortified my respect for the frailty of life and made me focus on what really matters to me as a voice in the community. I meditate on what my next project will be, asking myself of its importance. “Will this bring me closer to what I want to accomplish in my life?” “If this is the last project I do before I die, will I be satisfied?” This may seem a little over-the-top, but for now it provides a bit of context for my life larger than my immediate surroundings and situation.

Photo credit: berny Hi

Photo credit: berny Hi


I am a visual artist, puppeteer, and designer located in Regina. Working on this project has been a tremendously rewarding experience and one that directly fed into my own arts practice exploring how memory is affected and changed by the passing of time. Common Weal provided me, as an artist, with the perfect opportunity to blend my personal arts practice with community arts programming. Some of the greatest moments from the project simply came from sitting around the table and having conversations with people, sharing gossip and hearing some unbelievable and hilarious stories. In those moments, the people we were working with were 14-years old and trapped in an 80-year old body. This project is a testament to how very few people ever really “grow up.”