Posts By: First Nations Drum

Aspiring Artist Kylie Fineday

 

After finishing high school in her home province of Saskatchewan, Kylie Fineday joined the workforce but never gave up on her dream of becoming an artist. As an Art Studio major in the University of Lethbridge Bachelor of Fine Arts program, she’s pursuing her aspirations.

“The great thing about uLethbridge is the classes are small enough that everyone gets a lot of time with their professors,” says Kylie. “Plus, having my own studio space and access to the incredible art facilities has made me really enjoy pursuing studio art.”

Kylie says her uLethbridge experience has not only supported her artistic development, but has introduced her to ways of working in the arts outside of the studio. This past year she completed an internship with the uLethbridge Art Gallery, where she curated an exhibition including works by current students and pieces from the gallery’s collection.

“It’s been an amazing experience getting to see what is in the University art collection and learning about everything that goes into creating an exhibition.”

That experience helped Kylie land a summer job at the gallery where she worked as a curatorial assistant, giving her even more valuable hands-on experience. Recently, the uLethbridge Art Gallery received a bequest of more than 1,000 artworks from the estate of Dr. Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess (DFA ‘04), including works by international artists like Henri Matisse, renowned Canadians like Emily Carr and more than 400 pieces by Indigenous artists. Kylie helped assess the value of the collection, catalogued the new acquisitions and installed a portion of the exhibition showcasing the collection in the main gallery space.

“It’s such an impressive gift and I think it’s great to see a lot of Indigenous representation alongside the big Canadian and international names. It’s been a great learning opportunity, and it’s really exciting to be involved with something so big for the University community.”

After finishing at uLethbridge, Kylie plans to explore artist residencies where she can continue her practice and look for more opportunities to work in galleries or museums.

 

2018 Fulmer Awards in First Nations Art

McLennan emerging artist- Kelsey Hall

McLennan emerging artist- Kelsey Hall

 

2018 Fulmer Awards in BC First Nations Art recipients

VANCOUVER – The BC Achievement Foundation (BCAF) honoured the six recipients of the Fulmer Awards in BC First Nations Art at the 12th annual Awards in First Nations Art celebration at the Roundhouse, Vancouver, on November 20th.  The recipients were celebrated for their artistic excellence in traditional, contemporary or media art.

“These awards honour the very best in First Nations art in the province and help celebrate the inheritance of a rich cultural tradition,” said BCAF chair Scott McIntyre. “The 2018 recipients join the 68 artists the foundation has had the privilege to honour over the past twelve years,” he added.

The 2018 Fulmer Awards in BC First Nations Art recipients, chosen by an independent jury, are:

Richard Adkins – Haida Nation  – Richard Adkins grew up in a traditional Haida family, one where he had the opportunity to learn history and tradition.  . He has carried that love of art and tradition over many decades, beginning with studying Northwest Coast Art with Freda Diesing. As an established mixed media artist, Rick has created masterful pieces in sculpture, jewelry and drawing. Rick has garnered national recognition for his design, and his work has been exhibited at art galleries around the country.

Bradley Hunt  – Heiltsuk artist from Waglisla (Bella Bella) He is a member of the Eagle Clan, through his late mother Annie Hunt.  One of Bradley’s core philosophies as a teacher is that he believes that the student must learn the principles of the traditional art form before they try to push the boundaries and create their own personal style.  Bradley continues to carve every day with his two sons in Sechelt BC on the Sunshine Coast.

Nakkita Trimble –  has been instrumental in the re-claiming of Nisga’a tattooing methods of skin stitching and hand poking –– techniques her ancestors would have used. Nakkita’s tattoos connect generations, helping individuals reconnect with their identity while developing pride and curiosity for their family histories, stories and traditions. Her solo-exhibit at the Nisga’a Museum in Grenville, B.C. featured the oral history of Nisga’a Tattooing prior to contact. The oral history was passed down from Freda Morven and the Council of Elders comprised of some Matriarchs and Chiefs of the four main villages in the Nass Valley.

Carrielynn Victor – Carrielynn Victor, Xémontélót Carrielynn Victor, (Stó:lo, Coast Salish & Mixed Western European Heritage) from the community, XwChí:yóm (Cheam), is a gifted artist. Her paintings and murals reflect her belief of her role as a defender of the earth. An artist, fisher, plant harvester and medicines practitioner, Carrielynn’s work fuses ancestral knowledge and a deep connection to her culture with contemporary techniques and styles.

Henry Speck Jr – master carver received the Lifetime Achievement Award,  A self-taught artist of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation of the Tlawitsis Tribe, Hank has close to sixty years of carving experience.  Many of his pieces are interpretations of the large bird masks used in the hamatsa ritual and the Atlikim dance series. Given the scale and intricacy of his work, Hank produces only a few major pieces each year and many of these are for cultural use. Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) chiefs commission his gigantic raven and Hok Hok masks, stretching to six and seven feet in length, for use in potlatch ceremonies.

The Fulmer Awards in BC First Nations Art are made possible through the generous support of the Vancouver-based Fulmer Foundation.

Fulmer Award 2018 Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist Award: Kelsey Hall

Kelsey Hall (KC) of Bella Bella, in Heiltsuk Nation territory on the central coast of BC, belongs to the House of Wakas and descends from noted Heiltsuk artist Chief Robert Bell. His artistic practice stems from handwriting, lettering and graffiti skills developed in high school. Mentored and influenced by many BC First Nations artists, KC has collaborated with local artists on many projects, including murals for Granville Island’s newest public space. He has been commissioned for art that demonstrate his knowledge of traditional First Nations craft, creating a mural for the UBC Museum of Anthropology, and co-designing a Spirit Blanket that was presented to Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Bella Bella. KC’s art is modernist with traditional roots. His work arises out of the tension between ancient First Nations skills and traditions and the urban digital world he now inhabits. The skill with which KC navigates this rift shows in his use of formline to create habitat for traditional figures with a distinctively modern/Manga twist.

 

Breaking the Poverty Cycle: The Economic Impact of Post-Secondary Education

Ruby Barclay speaks out about the value of post-secondary education| Photo By Vancouver Island University

Ruby Barclay speaks out about the value of post-secondary education| Photo By Vancouver Island University

 

After a year of planning, Ruby Barclay arrived at Vancouver Island University (VIU) Student Residences from her hometown with two Rubbermaid totes and a duffel bag.

“That was it – that was my entire life,” she remembers. “The first day was really, really tough.”

While most youth transitioning to post-secondary rely on parents and extended family for support with school, living expenses and advice, Barclay had just aged out of BC’s youth in care system. Unlike many of her peers, Barclay did not have a parent to make the journey with her, take her to Costco to get supplies, or help instill the confidence she needed to succeed in her studies.

“I had to figure out and plan all these things on my own,” she says. “Getting my acceptance letter from VIU is still one of the best days of my life. For me, it meant there was a chance to have a future beyond 19, and that someone believed I could do it. It was an opportunity to access education that I otherwise wouldn’t have access to – VIU was one of the only institutions waiving tuition fees for those with lived experience in the care system.”

Fast forward to today, and Barclay, who finished the requirements for her Child and Youth Care degree last spring, has found work she’s passionate about – supporting others who have experienced the government care system as Youth Advisory Council Coordinator with the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre.

A new report commissioned by VIU analyzing the economic impact and return on investment of education at the University found that VIU contributed to the socio-economic well-being of the local and provincial community by $23.1 million due to the benefits of post-secondary education. Students earn more because of the skills and qualifications they acquire at VIU, are less likely to require income assistance or commit crimes for this reason, and are statistically more likely to develop good health habits, states the report.

In 2016-17, the 67 students who were supported by VIU through the Post Care Tuition Waiver Program will generate $2 million in benefits to the provincial government throughout their working lives. This means that not only does the program create opportunities for youth to better their lives, but it also has long-term benefits for all.

While at VIU, Barclay discovered, partly through her own experiences, that although the University paid tuition expenses for anyone who has spent time in the care system, there were no supports built in to meet the unique needs of these students and ensure they were successful once they got here. She developed a practicum placement that later turned into a paid position at VIU – Peer Support Navigator for the Post-Care Tuition Waiver Program.

“As the first institution in BC to adopt such a program, VIU had to learn our role in supporting former youth in care to succeed,” explains William Litchfield, Associate Vice-President of University Relations. “Despite still being a student, Ruby’s role was largely about teaching us how to best support students, and creating a sense of community and connectedness between VIU and tuition waiver students.”

For Barclay, her education breaks the cycle of poverty for her own family and future generations. But that’s not the only thing post-secondary did for her – it also helped her find her family.

“The biggest benefit of going to VIU, aside from education, was the community,” she says. “I didn’t grow up believing that I could be more than someone with lived experience in care until I found a community that believed I could.”

 

The Engineering Access Program (ENGAP) at University of Manitoba

Photo Courtesy of Marketing Communications Office at the University of Manitoba

The Engineering Access Program (ENGAP) is a friendly, warm and supportive community of students and staff that was originally developed to bring about a greater representation of Indigenous students (First Nation, Metis and Inuit) within the engineering profession. One ENGAP student shares his perspective:

“ENGAP is a welcoming family that focus’ 100% of their time and energy to promote student emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health. ENGAP is my second home lead by a selfless director that encourages his staff with their amazing attitudes to promote our success. With the great people that run this program I am a proud student of Canada’s most successful Indigenous Engineering Access Program in Canada.”

– Chanse Kornik—Electrical Engineering

The success of ENGAP can be attributed to the wide array of supports it offers students, from academic, personal and financial to employment and community connections. If Indigenous students do not have the university entrance requirements, the ENGAP program offers free upgrading classes in math, physics, chemistry and computer science to help the students meet the highly competitive demands of engineering. In addition, ENGAP offers all of their students free tutoring, as well as the opportunity for ‘A’ students to become paid tutors. ENGAP then continues to support each student throughout their engineering degree, welcomes new Indigenous students at any stage of their degree and opens the door to all Direct Entry Indigenous students who are ready to take university credit courses.

Nicole Lambert, a Metis electrical engineering student shares her experience “ENGAP is a place where I’m always comfortable and surrounded by friends. It’s such a good resource for school and always welcoming.”

Our Indigenous engineering students have great career opportunities as they are sought after and hired for summer jobs, as well as after graduation.  In addition, when students are part of an engineering department they can experience term work positions through the Co-op program. For example, Nicole worked at Shell Canada for an 8 month Co-op work term.  We are proud to say she will be graduating with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering this coming spring!

ENGAP’s Application forms for the 2019/2020 Academic school year are due: MAY 1st.  Be sure to include all required documentation. Application forms can be found on our website.

For more information, please call (204) 474-9872 or toll free in Manitoba 1 (800) 432-1960 ext. 9872 or visit our website at www.engap.com

 

Only I Can Define What I Can Do

Makayla Laboucan. Photo by Northern Lakes College

Makayla Laboucan. Photo by Northern Lakes College

Northern Lakes College graduate Makayla Laboucan credits her family for her career choice in Social Work. “My family was a foster family. While I was growing up, I saw many different faces move in and out of our home. I also grew up watching my mother help clients; she works as a FASD worker in High Prairie. My sister also completed her Social Work Diploma with Northern Lakes College and recently graduated from the University of Calgary with her BSW. My life goal is to help and guide. I want to support those who want change in their lives,” she says.

A member of the Sucker Creek First Nation, Laboucan lives in High Prairie. She graduated from the Social Work Diploma program in May 2018 and has her eye on her future. “I will be returning to University Studies at Northern Lakes College (NLC) this winter before I apply for my degree in Social Work at the University of Calgary for the fall of 2019. I also have plans to continue my studies after my BSW, to pursue a Criminology degree,” she adds.

Laboucan choose to study at NLC because she was not ready to move away from her family. Attending NLC made it possible for her to stay connected with her family and to maintain the support system already in place. “I do not think I would have been as successful if I was four or six hours away from my family and friends,” she states.

Chosen as her class valedictorian, Laboucan delivered the farewell statement to the class of 2018 at NLC’s graduation ceremony in June. “When I received the letter indicating that I was chosen to be valedictorian, I was shocked,” she states. “If you would have told me two and a half years ago that I would be the valedictorian and giving a speech in front of an audience, I would have laughed at you and said ‘yeah right.’ This is a huge accomplishment. As an Aboriginal woman, it has taught me that anything is possible and that only I can define what I can do.”

Laboucan’s advice to others who are considering Social Work as a future career is to “be open-minded to all things. There will be things that you may not agree with but, as a future Social Worker, you cannot judge or make decisions based on your own opinions.”

 

National Gathering Reframes Barriers to Reconciliation in Schools as Opportunities for Change

Photo of Ira Provost, Dr. Leroy Little Bear, Julaine Guitton, Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse. Dr. Michelle Hogue, Darren Googoo, Francis First Charger. Photo by EdCan Network.

Left to right: Ira Provost, Dr. Leroy Little Bear, Julaine Guitton, Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse. Dr. Michelle Hogue, Darren Googoo, Francis First Charger. Photo by EdCan Network.

 

Since the release of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015, school systems across Canada have been grappling with how best to embed Indigenous perspectives into all grade levels and aspects of schooling, including lessons on the history and legacy of residential schools. This has included diverse approaches to curricular reform and staff professional development plans, which have revealed that schools are progressing at varying paces along their journey towards reconciliation as they work to implement the Commission’s education-related calls to action. While many educators find themselves at the how-to stage and fearful of committing cultural appropriation in their teaching, numerous more are still asking, “Why should I do this?”, “Why is this my concern?” and “Even if I’m now obligated by curriculum, where would I begin since I know little to nothing about Indigenous histories and cultures?”

On October 12th, in an effort to address this tension, the national EdCan Network organized a professional learning event for over 200 teachers at the University of Lethbridge called “Truth and Reconciliation in Every School: What we know, what we don’t know, and what we need to do to move forward respectfully” – an acknowledgment that the road to reconciliation is not only an ongoing process that everyone is called to take up, but also a challenging personal investment that will unfold differently for each educator. The event catered directly to teachers and teacher candidates – regardless of where they might be along their journeys – and convened authors who had written for the recently-published Education Canada magazine special focus on Truth and Reconciliation in the Schools, which maps the progress Canadian public schools are making on this front.

“It’s not so much about the individual teacher,” explained Dr. Leroy Little Bear, the University of Lethbridge’s Special Assistant to the President. “Rather, it’s about the institutional aspect that teachers are a part of, which has played a large part in history in educating those superintendents, those Indian Agents and those ministers who brought about policies that led to residential schools.”

During the event’s main panel discussion, speakers affirmed the need for educators to assess their intentions and work towards navigating from a place of heart, in lieu of ‘walking on eggshells’ and remaining stagnant out of fear of asking a silly question that could offend someone. Grounded in the view that not doing anything is likewise wrong, speakers accentuated how no one will ever feel 100 percent ready to take up this challenge – that teachers need to be brave enough to say “I don’t know,” which is critical when working with Indigenous peoples and marginalized communities, according to panellist Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse. Beyond those three words follows a willingness to reach out to valuable human resources – school district Indigenous consultants, Elders, Knowledge Keepers and those with authentic expertise – so that teachers can advance their own knowledge, build trust-based relationships, and work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to teach all students about treaties, residential schools and long-standing issues facing Indigenous communities.

“Reconciliation is about a thousand cups of coffee,” stated panel moderator Dr. Michelle Hogue, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the University of Lethbridge’s First Nations Transition Program, in her recap of the conversation. “It’s about sitting, listening and building relationships.”

The full panel discussion, “Truth and Reconciliation in Every School: What we know, what we don’t know, and what we need to do to move forward respectfully,” can be replayed at www.edcan.ca/reconciliation

It’s Time to Add to Our Story

David Newhouse. Photo by George Horton

David Newhouse. Photo by George Horton

 

I teach a first-year class in Indigenous Studies at Trent University and have done so since 1999. We tell the story of what I call the Long Assault: the more than a century assault on Indigenous lands, territories, languages, cultures and knowledge. It is a remarkable story to tell, and there is now a tremendous volume of material that can be used to illustrate how it worked and show its continuing impact on our lives. It’s an essential and challenging story for students to learn. It helps them to understand what happened and why. The new generation of students, popularly called Gen Z, don’t just want facts presented to them, they want to know why things are the way they are. They are motivated by social justice, a desire for equality and fairness. Many want their education to go beyond the classroom and to present them with knowledge and tools that can help them to make a real difference.

Local Elders have told us that you cannot build upon weakness, you have to build upon strength, that we should choose ways to lift our students.  Over the last decade, I’ve added to the story and teach the students about what I call The Great Healing. This story tells of the journey over the previous half-century to restore sovereignty, reclaim lands, waters and territories as well as the development of our communities and nations. It’s also a story of cultural revitalization through the arts and a renewed spirituality. We recognize that enormous challenges are facing us (increasing access to safe drinking water, improving levels of education and incomes, improving overall health, tackling mental health and high rates of suicides, challenging racism and prejudice, etc.) and we discuss how we are addressing these challenges.

We point out that we have committed and educated leaders, men and women who are well schooled in both western and Indigenous knowledge. Our leaders are politicians, educators, social workers, health care workers, business owners, lawyers, scientists, public intellectuals, Elders and spiritual leaders. We turn to Indspire as a place where Indigenous achievement is recognized and acknowledged. Many Indigenous community leaders have been recognized by their communities and Canada and the provinces for their outstanding contributions to their communities.

We tell stories of determination, persistence, creativity, innovation and leadership. Using the medicine circle, we also tell stories through time:  of the past, the present and a new future. Telling this story is hard as it is overwhelmed by the story of the Long Assault and its impact. Adding the Great Healing to our narrative uplifts our communities, our leaders and our students. It also provides a foundation for concrete action for gen z students so that they can build on their strengths.

First Nations say Trans Mountain review is rushed

Photo | Kinder Morgan

VANCOUVER – It has been reported  that The National Energy Board will hear from 31 Indigenous groups and individuals  on the oral traditional evidence beginning November 19th as part of its new review on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The Federal Court of Appeal quashed the federal government’s plan to go ahead with the project in August, citing inadequate Indigenous consultation and the energy board’s failure to review the project’s impacts on the marine environment.

The Indigenous groups and individuals are scheduled to attend hearings beginning in  Calgary the week of November 19, in Victoria the week of Nov. 26 and Nanaimo, B.C., the week of December 3.

British Columbia’s Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nations say this process is too rushed and they’re considering filing fresh court challenges after the board issues its report.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government ordered The National Energy Board to review the marine impacts and submit a report no later than Feb. 22.

According to the Financial Post, the National Energy Board responded to concerns about the timeline in documents released Wednesday, November 7, saying there’s already significant evidence on the record and legislation requires it to conduct proceedings within the time limit set by the federal government.

On Our Sacred Journey

Robertjohn Knapp and Danny at Parliament of Worlds Religions Salt Lake City, Utah

Robertjohn Knapp and Danny at Parliament of Worlds Religions Salt Lake City Utah Photo by Oren Lyons 2015

 

In memory of Alicja Rozanska

When we give thanksgiving we honor the plant life first in our way of life, then we go to our Sacred Mother Earths blood, rivers, oceans and ponds the sacred drink that our mother give all Creation. After the plant life and rivers its our relations who we thank and honor four-legged, winged ones, fish life and insects these are the ones who share this sacred mother earth with Humans On Our Sacred Journey. When we all start our day this way, how can we go wrong, how can we we ever feel alone when this respect we have for life grows every day, when we connect our self to life, life can connect itself to the Humans. Our old ones teach us Indian people that all Creation can hear and feel our love when we speak to them, our trees, our plant life, the sky,Grandmother Moon, Brother Sun every insect can hear and feel our love ,respect and thanksgiving for sharing this sacred journey with us Humans, as we share this Sacred Mother Earth in that sacred oneness with the Great Mystery our Great Creator the Universe the Cosmos the life-giving forces Earth Air Fire and Water we are all one in the eyes of the Universe/Creator.

Blackcloud on Sacred Drum at Parliament of Worlds Religions Salt Lake City, Utah

Blackcloud on Sacred Drum at Parliament of Worlds Religions Salt Lake City Utah photo by Danny Beaton

Indigenous people have showed Western ideologists and early explorers the oneness of living in harmony with Mother Earth from first contact 500 years ago and were called inferior beings, how can humans become so confused over the years about the Sacredness in life, how can the natural life become so meaningless to humans and become a commodity, a resource to extract and profit from for short-term profit and destroy our relations, fish, animals, birds and insects who need plants, forests, mountains, gardens, swamp, wetlands to live in as humans do, our relations need rivers, lakes and oceans to thrive, multiply and survive. Our oceans were once full of life species, sharks, whales, tuna, cod, shrimp, octopus endless fish life nurturing breeding endlessly with algae,  plankton, seaweed, Our oceans are a source of air supply possibly 75 percent of our fresh air supply comes from the oceans biodiversity and web of life support. Yet the governments of the world in charge have left the oceans to factory fishing to destroy and rape as does the mining industry /corporations pillage and rape Mother Earth for minerals, gold, diamonds, ore, nickel zinc and taking the organs out of Mother Earth then sucking the oil from her body till there is nothing but huge gaping wounds on her body. Chernobyl and Fukushima power plants have created higher cancer rates and leukemia since having uranium, plutonium extracted from Mother Earths body to support nuclear energy. Mismanagement after mismanagement of the world’s resources are killing all life on our Sacred planet.

The Sacredness of Life must be taught to those who have fallen asleep spiritually, the children of the world are now suffering and this suffering is growing everywhere as our hospital are filling up with cancer, diabetes, heart diseases depression are rampant. Every major river in the world is polluted. All of this was foretold to us in our Sacred Circles and Sacred Councils by our old elders 25 years ago in my lifetime, yet it was all prophesied by most cultures hundreds of years ago. Our work/jobs are to help those who are asleep spiritually each and every one of us people can do something positive to help Mother Earth or support justice and peace somewhere as the negativity is growing and the Fire Keepers of the world the Medicine People need to speak up of respect, equality, unity, peace and righteousness. Our Old Elders would say we need The Good Mind it is our way of life and we need to put our Minds together to solve these problems of the world, As One Minded People!           

Twenty-five years ago I remember waking up to the sound of the Sacred Drum and the songs of the morning, the Dawn Song to honour all life coming alive from a good night’s rest. We were gathered up by The American Indian Institute the united nations of native tribes based in Bozeman Montana, the elders and youth who were carrying traditional indigenous culture or better known as The Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth the wisdom keepers of North America. We gathered up to maintain our sacred culture and way of life to honour the Great Mystery our Great Creator Wakan Tanka, Mother Earth, all our Relations the Great Spirit and life-giving forces. We became Creators extended family and like Chief Tom Porter would say every man is a brother on this continent and every woman is a sister in this country that is the law of the land. Every person is indigenous every person has a homeland and territory we are the indigenous people of this continent.

The first year I attended sacred ceremonies was suggested by Chief Oren Lyons in 1990, Oren was one of the greatest environmentalists I ever met or have known in my life a Wolf Clan adopted into the Turtle Clan a spokesperson for the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth and Indigenous Working Group On Climate Change with the United Nations. The peace and respect on the Onondaga Reserve was overwhelming in Syracuse New York the community was the strongest place I had ever seen or been to in my life full of calmness, intelligence and respect and traditional Iroquois culture, Onondaga may be one of the only places that is free from the US government control and still organized by traditional Iroquois people. My first year attending sacred ceremonies was an experience that helped create the person I am now, I had already been attending sacred sweat lodge ceremonies in Guelph with elder Vern Harper but with the grassroots spiritual leaders of North America was a whole new awakening, It seemed like there were at least a hundred old elders with us that year in Onondaga with all the family’s there it was the largest spiritual gathering I had ever been to. Once the Sacred Fire was started by our Fire Keeper the Fire Keepers kept the fire going for 4 days and three nights. The day would start at sun rise and then Sacred Sunrise Ceremony with blessings from elders of the Four Directions. Then the prayers would continue from all the elders, clan mothers, chiefs, medicine people and runners who had gathered there at ceremony to give thanks to Great Creator/Wakan Tanka Creation the Universe/Cosmos and Mother Earth for the gifts we as Humans Beings were blessed with and our Relatives and Ancestors. We honoured the Spirit World we honoured the Four Directions we honoured Natural Life Natural Laws Earth, Air, Fire Water the Life Giving Forces from everything that moved or lived on Mother Earth to everything in the Sky world to everything invisible our old elders taught us we were at one with throughout Our Sacred Journey on this Sacred Mother Earth. That we as humans had a duty and responsibility to give Thanksgiving for All Creation. Uncle Robertjohn always told me that everything in the Spirit World can hear us Human Beings we were given the Sacred Tobacco to communicate with Great Creator with our Sacred Pipes and that our Songs were the highest form of prayer we could give each and every day.                

When we as Indians or non-Indians spend time with our old wisdom keepers/elders the ones who still laugh and joke the ones who still pray and understand the life around us and traditional culture we are being taught our relation to all life around us! When we spend time talking, eating, sleeping, praying, singing, drumming and being with elders who are peaceful healthy, we have a chance to learn stories and teachings of the way life was and should be. When we attended our Sacred Circles in our old days we was loved and nurtured by our elders because that is the way of life that they were taught and it is passed on to us then we pass that Healing and Wisdom on to those who are On Our Sacred Journey.

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Vancouver is set for the 15th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

With more than 100 events scheduled over 12 days at over 40 locations throughout the Downtown Eastside, the 15th Annual DTES Heart of the City Festival (October 24 – November 4, 2018) has a cornucopia of cultural events and artistic activities to attend, participate in, and enjoy.

The Heart of the City Festival will include twelve days of music, stories, songs, poetry, cultural celebrations, films, theatre, dance, spoken word, workshops, discussions, gallery exhibitions, mixed media, art talks, history talks and history walks.

To acknowledge, honour and support our home communities long standing commitment to social justice, the theme of the 2018 Festival is “Seeds of Justice, Seeds of Hope”. We celebrate the history of the Downtown Eastside community advocacy for human rights and social justice as we move forward and create artistic activity that speaks to today’s vital concerns and burning issues.

Heart of the City Festival’s mandate is to promote, present and facilitate the development of artists, art forms, cultural traditions, history, activism, people and great stories about Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The festival involves a wide range of professional, community, emerging and student artists and lovers of the arts. Over 1,000 local artists and Downtown Eastside residents participated in last year’s Festival.

Here are some of the exciting Top Festival Picks.

Hope Matters, An Evening with Lee Maracle and Columpa Bobb: Acclaimed award-winning writer and elder Lee Maracle and award-winning actor, playwright, photographer, poet and teacher Columpa Bobb read from their upcoming book, Hope Matters. Thursday Oct 25, 7pm. Massy Books, 229 E. Georgia.

Material Witness: The Festival is honoured to present Material Witness, an international co-production between renowned Spiderwoman Theater of New York City, the longest running Native American women’s theatre company in the United States, and Aanmitaagzi, an Indigenous multi-disciplinary-arts company from Nipissing First Nation, Ontario. Friday Oct 26, Saturday Oct 27, 8pm. Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender.

Songs of Justice, Songs of Hope: This evening of stirring sing-along activist songs launches the Festival and this year’s theme Seeds of Justice, Seeds of Hope. Led by musician, composer, conductor, and 2018 Festival Artist in Residence Earle Peach (2017 Mayor Arts Award), this evening of song features, among others, social justice Solidarity Notes Labour Choir singing about historical and current events and issues; and accordionist-extraordinaire Geoff Berner, whose powerful and biting social satirical songs can make you laugh or weep – often at the same time. Come ready to sing!

Wednesday Oct 24, 7pm. Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main.

Emerging Heritage Fair 1928-2018-2108: Join the Festival and the Japanese Language School to celebrate the shared 90th anniversary of the Japanese Hall and of Japan/Canada diplomatic relations; and to laud the 15th anniversary of the groundbreaking Downtown Eastside Community Play:  Saturday Oct 27, Education Fair 1pm, Performances 7pm Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall, 487 Alexander.

Vetta Chamber Music, Seasons of the Sea weaves together contemporary classical music by award-winning Vancouver composer Jeffrey Ryan with a narrative written by Rosemary Georgeson (Sahtu Dene/Coast Salish), recipient of the 2009 Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award as Emerging artist/Community-engaged Arts. Sunday Oct 28, 3pm. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall.

Ukrainian Hall Community Concert & Supper: The festival ends on a high note at the east-end’s historic Ukrainian Hall with lively music, invigorating dance and colourful costumes, featuring among others Kat Zucomul’wat Norris (Coast Salish). The best full meal and concert deal in Vancouver! Sunday Nov 4, concert 3pm, supper follows. Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender.

Many events are free or by suggested donation. Visit www.heartofthecityfestival.com for full details.