Reimagined Portrait Art – Today is Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and I wanted to acknowledge that my studio is located on Treaty 6 land. This land is home to 17 First Nations including Dene Suliné, Cree, Nakota Sioux and Saulteaux peoples.
My daughter’s class held a discussion on what Truth and Reconciliation meant. The teacher was Metis and was married to a devout Catholic family. Her family were survivors of the residential schools, his family were the people who worked in the schools and had to “round up” children. I can honestly say I have never heard such a powerful message on Truth and Reconciliation than what I did listening to her class. It had a profound affect on my daughter who was truly moved to acknowledge the darker, heartbreaking side of Canada’s deep history.
Her teacher’s message encouraged me to spend time today educating myself on the land I live on. I encourage you all today to take a moment to research the people’s who first lived here and reflect on what the residential school survivors really experienced being ripped away from their families and forced to assimilate to a new language and culture. For me, this year this hits home very hard.
I was blessed to work with this Cree family a few years ago. She has been dancing Powwow all her life and she brought her husband into this rich and incredibly beautiful celebration of Indigenous culture. This family openly welcomed me into their language, culture and traditions. It was a privilege to create this image for them.
In the Cree culture, the northern lights are their ancestors dancing in the sky. The power of this family who is so involved in Powwow juxtaposed with their ancestors dancing above them still moves me.
Truth and Reconciliation for me is about education. I pray you take time today to open your heart to the incredible sadness of the history of this day but also the incredible richness that is Indigenous culture in Canada.