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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


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Standing in front of a low table flickering with gleams of light from paper baskets Peter Morin acknowledged all the people who shared a story for the Memory Talking Stick project.

Acknowledgment

We were surrounded by the stories and activities; the paper baskets hold the stories in the same way that the drawings mark the wall, the stitches tighten the moccasins and the voices echo in the ear. Morin collect 114 stories from the community 114 stories of unhappiness and suffering also 114 stories of strength. Morin’s work and practice engages in a healing process with elders, survivors and youth; Morin reminded us of today’s date: June 12, the second anniversary of the Canadian government’s apology for assimilation practices in Canada’s residential schools.

Invitation

The doorway into the project is through identity and home.

Invitation

Cleansing

Morin and friends carry cedar baskets around the room – we each take turns smelling the offering. As we breathe in we cleanse our cheeks, foreheads and hair in the vapors of deerskin, cedar bark, smoke, fire. Now we all have the memory of being washed in that smell forever. “Smell is memory, it all comes home back in a rush”, says Morin.

Change

Morin’s work and practice is about direct experience and exchange: listen to a story and a task is placed on you to respond, to share a story in return or retell a story. The method is radically effective. It holds the potential for change. Start asking both friends and chance encounters: – “Who are your people?”

Memory Talking Stick Project Peter Morin Victoria BC 2010