Archive

Aboriginal Arts

birch shelter dance

The Indigenous Youth Arts Program at Open Space Art Gallery Victoria BC

coordinated by Aboriginal Curator France Trépanier, Ritual (Un) Natural is a youth-directed, arts mentorship program that brings together youth participants, professional artists, and elders.

June 26 Emilio Portal Islands: an installation to honor the spirit of Lekwungen

Aboriginal people have occupied this Territory (aka Victoria) for over 400 years. The Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations people are a part of the Coast Salish ethnic group; their ancestors lived in large cedar houses, in extended family groups that were self-governing. All household groups claimed specific living areas and areas where they could hunt, fish, and collect plants. They occupied the area from Albert Head to Cordova Bay to the San Juan Islands. The language spoken was a dialect known as Lekwungen.[i]

While Islands recognizes the past and the “might have been”, Islands also brings attention to the now and how things might be; with Islands Portal asks us to re-understand relationships between native and stranger, myth, history, knowledge and ceremony. The title, Islands literally refers to an isolate land yet discloses the isolate mind. Silence. Separate.

What if first contact were happening now? Between you and I?

What does it takes to direct thought from what it silently thinks and sound out new thought?

A cedar box which contained a cedar box which contained a cedar box which contained an infinite number of cedar boxes nested inside which contain all the sounds of the universe [ii]

“Cedar spirit is a greater being than I” –Emilio Portal

208 cedar studs 2x4x8 stacked flat racked restacked, Drumming & Percussion

“Hyeshqe!”


[i] Cheryl Bryce and Brenda Sam, “Lekwungen People: The Traditional Territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt People” [pamphlet], 1997

[ii] Robert Bringhurst and Bill Reid, “Raven Steals the Light”, Douglas and McIntrye, 1996 (I remixed this to read sound instead of light)

“What does it mean to be a guest on traditional territory of Lekwungen people?”- asked by Tahltan curator Peter Morin

“What I want to know is when the Europeans came here is why didn’t they adopt our ways of living? Ways of living that have sustained our people for centuries.” -asked by Emilio Portal

Kwakwaka’wakw Elder Gerry Ambers lead a Circle Ceremony on June 9 at Open Space Artist Run Centre, inviting participants to meet and speak their personal stories and share perspectives on hosting and being a guest in Victoria BC in the present time. Every story we hear changes us. Cedar enclosure constructed by Emilio Portal.

“Listening is the stage of comprehension, of pay attention, which follows acknowledging sounds. If we know how, we can listen…hearing old stories in new ways and unsettling our familiar notions of first contact and all the history that follows.” John Sutton Lutz in Myth and Memory Stories of Indigenous-European Contact

Subsequent Circles in the fall of 2012

France Trépanier and Chris Creighton-Kelly

Understanding Aboriginal Arts in Canada Today: A Knowledge and Literature Review

 Research and Evaluation Section Canada Council for the Arts April 2012

Trépanier’s and Creighton-Kelly’s research investigates an essential, but not a simple, question – how does one understand Aboriginal arts which are created in the territory known as Canada?

Skeena Reece Raven: On the Colonial Fleet, 2010

“I once heard an elder say that the great crime in this land was not that the natives had their language and culture beaten out of them in boarding schools – the great crime was that the people who came here did not adopt the culture of the land.” – Mike MacDonald

Trépanier and Creighton-Kelly use methods of observing, listening, respecting, remembering, regenerating, transmitting and healing to tell the connected stories of

Land ~ Peoples ~ Languages ~ Cultural Practices ~ Art

and find knowledge located in different places, in songs, baskets, moccasins, weaving, dreams, ceremony, language and political discourse

Inuvialuit Drummers and Dancers, Inuvik. Photographer: Chris Randle.

Alex Javier, Morning Star, Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Robert Houle, Paris/Ojibwa, 2010

“In Native culture, stories are not simply stories. They are told and retold so that ! they resonate in the present, not as myths and legends, but as a vital part of  history. They teach critical lessons and cultural values, like bravery and the necessity of communication.” Candice Hopkins

Please read and become a pocket of wisdom and wakefulness

Understanding  Aboriginal  Arts  in  Canada  Today