This week Gord Downie premieres his project The Secret Path at the National Arts Centre and on CBC
I had the opportunity to attend the premiere of The Secret Path this past Tuesday at the National Arts Centre. It was not an easy event to get through. Gord Downie along with illustrator Jeff Lemire have created a work that invokes discomfort and deep pain – as it should.
Chanie (Charlie) Wenjack was a young Anishinaabe boy from Marten Falls First Nation. He was only one of 150,000 children that were taken from their parents and placed into residential schools often thousands of kilometres away. Far in physical and emotional distance, a large percentage of these children, an estimated 6000, never returned home.
The Wenjack family was present at the NAC and has been a part of this project to bring awareness not only to the past but also to the present – many Indigenous teenagers must leave their community to attend high school. Having high schools on all reserves would allow for kids to stay in their home communities. This is part of the message of Pearl Wenjack, Chanie’s sister, who shared with the audience at the NAC her memories of her little brother and her hope for his legacy.
Along with the production of The Secret Path video and album a foundation (The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Foundation) has also been established to raise money for projects that promote opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue between Non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities. In the spirit of reconciliation, as Gord Downie says “It’s time to get started folks, we had the last 150 years, now we have the next.”
I am not going to tie this up with many words because a few lines will get the message across better than a post full of paragraphs or a lesson in history. What Savannah Simon shared at the Michaëlle Jean Foundation’s “Power of the Arts Forum” says it all.
Her grandmother had her language beaten out of her in residential school. She found a way back to her mother tongue when she fell in love with Savannah’s grandfather. He re-taught his love the language she had lost.
In residential school her grandmother went 6 years without being hugged. That is why Savannah gives away free hugs, so no one feels the isolation that comes from not being lovingly embraced by another.
Savannah’s other passion is to teach people her language. #SpeakMikmaq “L’nuisi, it’s that easy.”
FYI – If you are interested in learning more about Canada’s complex history with First Peoples join writers Waubgeshig Rice (Anishinaabe), Suzanne Keeptwo (Métis & Irish) along with John Ralston Saul to discuss John’s book “The Comeback” tonight Monday, November 10 at 7 pm Southminster United Church, Ottawa.
We can feel the seasons changing! We welcome the spring and the Omushkegowuk Walkers from Attawapiskat First Nation to Parliament Hill today. If you missed being part of the welcoming party you can support them by attending the Potluck Farewell Feast at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church (across from the Supreme Court) at 5 pm on Wednesday evening. If you can provide food for this event please visit the Reclaiming our steps, past, present and future – Ottawa Facebook Event Page for contact details.
“A multitalented artist, poet, passionate advocate for the quest for knowledge through literature and music, YAO is comparable to a modern-day troubadour.
Although his music is characterized by a sweet mix of Slam poetry, Jazz and Blues, his eclectic approach and escapades in various musical genre gives it a rich, unique and very pleasant sound.” Read more…
FRIDAY: THE JERRY CANS + SAALI
Friday is The Jerry Cans & Saali at Zaphod Beeblebrox, 27 York Street.
“The Jerry Cans will take you on a stroll through Iqaluit, Nunavut with their unique mix of Inuktitut country swing, throat singing, reggae, and blues, sharing a glimpse of life in Nunavut while challenging misrepresentation of the great white north. Nunavuttitut! Nunavut Style!”
“The Winter Village Storytelling Festival & Meshkwadoon is a celebration of the First Peoples’ winter culture through artistic and oral traditions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis People…Alongside these wonderful presentations will be some of Ottawa’s finest vendors showcasing both Aboriginal and non- aboriginal arts and crafts.”Read more…
Part of Sunday’s lineup is a performance by madeskimo.
Saturday, March 1st, 10am – 5pm & Sunday, March 2nd, 11am – 5pm
Individual Day Pass $5
Family Day Pass $12
Individual Weekend Pass $8
Family Weekend Pass $20
Children under 3 Free
When the curators working with the National Gallery of Canada came together to plan Sakahàn, the largest exhibition of Indigenous work ever held, they couldn’t have known that right before the Spring ’13 opening there would be a political movement that would globally link people in solidarity with Indigenous movements around the world.
And as the Harper Government amped up its campaign of greenbrain-washing this country, a reactionary plan came together quickly because the seeds of change were already being watered and nourished and were ready to bloom.
And blossom they did! The internet was the fertile ground beneath the virtual commons where everyone who wanted to participate could look, listen and learn.
I felt I had a kind of empowerment that I never had before. I could have a say in what was happening in Canada now and play an active part in envisioning what it can become in the future.
I also felt the grounding that hope gives when you know that there are so many people out there who are willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of protecting the land.
Data collection allows for metrics around keywords and hashtags but what cannot be fully quantified are the relationships that have been made because of people coming together around a cause. A system of roots has now spread across cyberspace.
And those roots don’t just exist online. A year after Idle No More started I find that it’s hard to imagine my life without the people I have met due to the divine timing of a political movement, an art exhibit, and computer technologies that allow us to find each other.
Throughout my journey this year I have encountered many who recognize that something important is happening – things have changed, the time is ripe.
The Anishinaabe prophecy of the 7th Fire speaks of an era when people of all races and faiths will unite in an effort to direct the evolution of humanity towards an existence that chooses spirituality over materialism.
I believe that no matter our background we can understand this to be true as well as appreciate the importance of the timing – we have to pick a path.
An organization that works toward facilitation around moving forward with strengthened relations between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Canadians is Niigaan In Conversation. On March of this year, Niigaan held its first event to a packed out house! Sensing a need for constructive dialogue around Treaties as well as a welcoming space for Non-Indigenous people to learn about Canada’s troubled history Niigaan offered a much needed service in the months following the start of Idle No More.
The legacy of their hugely successful inaugural event lives on because of its accessibility online but the great news is if you want to have a chance to experience the energy of Niigaan in person this coming Tuesday December 10 in Ottawa, on unceded Algonquin Territory, Niigaan is offering us all a chance to celebrate a year of change, begin more new relationships and continue building a plan around solidarity.
More than several times a day my heartbreaks as I watch what comes through my Facebook feed, like today as more information regarding the children of Syria killed by chemical weapons punctuated a moment. In these Orwellian times when we discover that Big Brother is indeed watching the wonder of the internet and social media is that we are watching too. We participate in bearing witness.
The other stunning quality of social media is that for every story that crushes me and makes me weep there are double, even triple, stories of action and resistance that offer hope and inspiration.
For example, my feed also includes what’s happening right now at Canada’s major cultural institutions and auxiliary events and projects surrounding these exhibits. We have amazing curatorial teams that have produced shows that challenge the Chinese Government’s position on Human Rights, Canada’s policies on Aboriginal issues and the Economy of Oil, and global attitudes regarding the Environment.
My concern – do we walk away from these shows changed at a deep core level? Do we return to our daily lives radically motivated to stop being part of the problem and act in service of social justice and environmental causes? Will we change our level of comfort for the sake of stopping someone else’s pain or the loss of natural resources?
I pray that all the illumination will indeed cause a spiritual shift towards a tipping point that will alter the world. I want to see civilizations that are socially and environmentally just because today as children’s lives are ended by chemical warfare in Syria in this country Aboriginal women are being sold into the sex trade and the land along with the women is being violated.
It’s time to get radical folks.
What we experience in these exhibits can be our entry points into living with intention.
RECOMMENDED SHOWS THAT WILL CHANGE PERSPECTIVES:
Sakahàn@ The National Gallery, Ottawa on until Sept 2
“For centuries, colonialism has been the cause of suffering, oppression and violence perpetuated against Indigenous people in Canada and many other countries. But attributing the rise of resistance, activism and the associated art to colonialism itself is disingenuous. The destructive ideologies inherent in colonialism are manifest by the interactions of people. The events caused by these interactions change people and their societies. Indigenous art is not predicated on “colonialism,” but on the events that it causes…Ghost Dance examines the role of the artist as activist, as chronicler and as provocateur in the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights and self-empowerment.”Steve Loft, more on RIC’s website
It’s fitting that Andrew Dexel’s work should follow MIXED BAG MAG’s post on the Journey of Nishiyuu. Andrew is another example of how young Aboriginal voices are getting our attention regarding the importance of referencing Indigenous Knowledge as a source for solutions to today’s problems.
Hailing from Vancouver, Andrew is from the Nlaka’pamux Nation. His work acknowledges the clash of values we have in Canada yet in its own way bridges the gap as he soothes the viewer with an artistic remedy.
“My work relates my spiritual path; my journey. I express the inspiration lovingly given to me through teachings and stories from my elders and mentors. My work embodies the powerful visions that I have been given through these teachings. I am grateful. My work is a modern expression embodying the symbolic abstract inspired by my home: Coast Salish Territory.” ~ Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel
“A fusion between graffiti and North West Coast Art”
“Ceremony and spirit, transformative art and ancient knowledge, these are themes throughout Nlaka’pamux artist, Andrew Dexel’s work…the voices of younger artists like Dexel who are working to fuse indigenous perspectives, aesthetics and tradition within new forms and materials are the cutting edge of ‘Native’ art. Dexel’s earlier work with graffiti art and street art led him to looking more diligently at Westcoast formline design and really solidified his ideas in line work. His unique palette, comes in part from this graffiti reference and also from the world of ceremony, the explosion of colour is a form of medicine, blowing up our expectations and creating new forms and ideas with diverse starting points. One part medicine, one part magic Dexel’s new body of work continues his exploration in healing and indigenous plant wisdom and ceremonial culture, with the beauty of his lines, the hopefulness of his palette and the spiritual animism that populate his canvasses.” ~ Tania Willard (co-curator of Beat Nation)
Andrew is part of a growing movement of contemporary Aboriginal artists who hover in the in-between space of traditional and modern. These artists blend together indigenous knowledge of healing with a street smart aesthetic. It is here that Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel moves fluidly. He offers us “visual medicine.” Experience the healing.
“Dexel’s new body of work continues his exploration in healing and indigenous plant wisdom and ceremonial culture”
If the start of the 21st Century is teaching us anything it is that the small and simple micro movement has great power. Like a little pebble dropped into a pond we see the miracle of the radiating rings – vibrations that reach the far shore.
A few teenagers had an idea. Let’s walk they said. And they did. In a Canadian winter (all of us can relate to that kind of discomfort). Today as they reached the Capital as a country we had to acknowledge that the system is broken. All because some kids got up on their feet and decided to make a movement.
Congratulations to the youth and everyone who joined the walk along the way. I know there were also many of us who joined you in spirit by binding our hands to yours in our virtual spaces.
Thank you for humbling us all into action.
“WALKERS YOU HAVE ETCHED YOUR NAMES IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY TODAY”
David Kawapit, original seven of Journey of Nishiyuu. Image from the Ottawa Citizen.
4 out of the original 7 members (Travis George, Stanley George Isaac Kawapit, and David Kawapit) celebrated their birthdays during the walk so why not give them a belated birthday present by donating to Journey of Nishiyuu cause!
Some great articles on the Journey of Nishiyuu walk to Ottawa:
10:00 am Opening & Remarks – Wanda Nanibush
10:30 am Robert Houle, Leanne Simpson on Anishnawbe Nationhood
11:30 am Aaron Detlor and Bruce Elijah on Haudenosaunee Nationhood
12:30 pm Donna Ashamock, Beverley Jacobs, Sylvia Plain on Indigenous Women’s Leadership
1:30 pm Lunch (brown bag lunches provided!)
2:00 pm Defenders of the Land remarks – Shiri Pasternak & Crystal Sinclair
2:15 pm Arthur Manuel and Russell Diabo on Canada’s First Nation Termination Plan
3:30 pm Norman Matchewan, Sheelah McLean, Brenda S. Small, Darlene Necan
4:30 – 6:30 pm Dinner Break (not provided)
7:00 pm Muskrat Magazine remarks – Rebeka Tabobondung
7:10 pm Ellen Gabriel, Naomi Klein and Arthur Manuel and Chelsea Vowel/Apihtawikosisan via Skype on Building a New Relationship moderated by Carla Robinson.
“An event organized by Idle No More Toronto, the Indigenous Sovereignty and Solidarity Network, Muskrat Magazine, and the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House, University of Toronto:
NATION TO NATION NOW
Idle? KNOW more!
Featuring conversations with good hearts and minds working for change...Come and learn about Anishinabeg and Haudenausonee Nationhood, Indigenous Women’s Leadership in the movement, Canada’s First Nation Termination Plan, and hear directly from Defenders of the Land and allies on the realities on the ground and strategies for moving forward.”(cited from Indigenous Sovereignty & Solidarity Network )
Re-contextualizing and re-energizing the Art Gallery of Ontario space with a eclectic and provocative set of performances.
At the tail end of 2012 AGO introduced a new event – 1st Thursdays – that has been running the first Thursday of the month ever since. And it is always SOLD OUT. What to expect? Interactivity, performance, unique giveaways, live music, and a well dressed crowd. And of course, art. For the price of the ticket ($10) you get full access to the Gallery as well as entertainment by provocative Canadian acts like the Yamantaka Sonic Titan (self described as a multidisciplinary hyper-orientalist cesspool of ‘east’ meets ‘west’ culture clash) and Indi DJ collective A Tribe Called Red.
“Their innovative blend of underground club sounds with pow wow music has reached a much wider audience than they’d imagined when they started throwing their monthly parties in Ottawa in 2008. And no one could have predicted the role they’d play in promoting a wider dialogue around aboriginal rights.” (read more on www.nowtoronto.com)
Tonight the AGO snagged “Godmother of Punk”, Patti Smith, as the performance of the month to coincide with AGO’s show Camera Solo an exhibition of Patti’s beautiful photography.
“Smith, known for her improvisational approach, looks for process-based accidents. Going through the exhibition, I was reminded of a line from “25th Floor,” a song on her second album Easter: “The transformation of waste is perhaps the oldest preoccupation of man.” It is certainly Smith’s preoccupation, an imbibing of Mapplethorpe’s Catholic attachment to the object-world, and to a belief in transubstantiation, resurrection and other forms of metamorphosis.” (read more on www.canadianart.ca)
A definite unique time, if you want to get to next’s month 1st Thursday, plan ahead!! Follow @AGOToronto & #AGO1ST to catch the moment tickets go on sale for April’s event.