Posts By: Clint Buehler

Major New Alberta Metis Centre Announced

Breaking ground on new Alberta Metis Centre

Groundbreaking at the Métis Crossing Site | Photo by The Métis Nation of Alberta

 

Funding for a major new Alberta Metis centre has been announced by the federal and Alberta governments and the Metis Nation of Alberta (MNA).

The funding will be used to create a new Metis cultural gathering centre at the Metis Crossing heritage site, located downstream from Edmonton on the North Saskatchewan River within the Victoria District National Historic Site. Metis Crossing encompasses 512 acres and features a historic village, restored homesteads and nature trails. It offers outdoor programming such as voyageur canoe trips, festivals and comfort camping in newly built Metis trappers tents.

The new cultural gathering centre will provide a welcoming indoor space for visitors to enjoy after outdoor activities. With meeting rooms, classrooms, exhibit and interpretive spaces, it will also enable Metis Crossing to offer year-round programming for the first time with experiences such as trapping, night sky-watching and snowshoeing.

“Métis Crossing is a place of pride where we not only share culture and tradition but offer an opportunity for others to learn and experience Métis culture,” says MNA President Audrey Poitras. “Our long awaited Cultural Gathering Centre, that has been a dream of Alberta’s Métis people for decades, is finally underway and will open up so many more future possibilities for visitors to enjoy in every season.”

“Investing in cultural infrastructure plays an important role in developing dynamic communities, promoting tourism and preserving Canada’s heritage, including the history and experiences of the Métis,” says Amarjeet Sohi, the Edmonton MP who is also the federal minister of Infrastructure and Communities whose department is providing $3.5 million in funding for the project through the Major Infrastructure Component of its Building Canada Fund.

“The Government of Canada is proud to support the Métis Nation of Alberta in honouring this region’s—and Canada’s—diverse heritage and history by investing in the construction of a new cultural gathering centre for Métis Crossing,” Sohi said. “The new centre will not only serve as a year-round tourist attraction, it will also act as a social gathering place for the community where residents and visitors can celebrate the unique traditions, art and culture of the Métis.”

“Métis Crossing will contribute to the local and provincial economy while showcasing the history of a proud people – the Métis people of Alberta, “said Richard Feehan, Alberta Minister of Indigenous relations. “Through this initiative, visitors from across the province and the country will learn about the importance of the Métis to Alberta and Canada through several exhibits and historical village tours.” The Government of Alberta is contributing $1 million and the Métis Nation of Alberta is providing the remaining project costs.

Métis Crossing is the first Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta. It mirrors Métis core values such as self-sufficiency, respect for Elders, encouraging youth participation and cultural pride. This site is one of many initiatives and projects the Métis Nation of Alberta supports to develop the socio-economic and cultural well-being of Métis people in Alberta.

Construction of the new cultural centre is scheduled to be completed in the late summer of 2019.

The Government of Canada will invest more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities.

$25.3 billion of this funding will support social (including cultural and recreational) infrastructure in Canadian communities.

$4 billion of this funding will support infrastructure projects in Indigenous communities.

Order of Canada Presented to Internationally Acclaimed Artist and Lecturer


 

Dr. Jane Ash Poitras CM RCA has received many honors as an internationally acclaimed visual artist and lecturer who has influenced a new generation of artists and students .

She has now added the Order of Canada to the numerous awards she has received in recognition of her achievements and contributions that include the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and honorary doctorates from the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.

With Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Alberta, she went on to obtain a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University in New York City. Immediately upon leaving Columbia, she returned to Canada to play a significant role in the development of a new visual vocabulary for First Nations perspectives in contemporary art. Her unique style combines representational strategies of postmodern art—collage, layering, overpainting and incorporation of found objects—with a deep commitment to the politics and issues common to indigenous peoples.

A sessional lecturer for the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies for more than 20 years, throughout her career she has been much in demand as a guest lecturer at universities and conferences and at the many exhibitions of her own art across Canada and the United States and internationally, including Paris, Amsterdam and Mexico City.

Jane’s journey of discovery and creation has opened new doors to enlightenment as she combines her many diverse interests in pursuit of her distinctive artistic vision. Over the years, Jane has pursued many different routes of discovery, each reflected in the art she has produced. Those journeys of exploration have taken her not only into plumbing her Aboriginal roots (beginning by reconnecting with her birth family and her Mikisew Cree First Nation), but into such diverse topics as pharmacology, ethnobotany, linguistics, and literary creations supplementing the creation of visual works of art.

The range and diversity of the interests that inspire and inform her artistic creations have resulted in a number of distinctive series of artworks that, over time, reflect the paths she has taken on her journey of discovery. A survey of those series over the 30 years of her professional career could well serve as a map of that journey and a graphic record of her evolution as an artist.

For example, in 2009 she traveled to Japan with her son Eli, a student in Japanese language and culture, a tour that consisted primarily of visits to Buddhist monasteries and left a lasting impression on both of them. When she returned, while she continued to focus on Indigenous history, culture and spirituality that had informed and inspired her previous work, her new work subsequently began to incorporate Japanese elements and their placement according to Japanese art customs.

Edmonton Journal visual arts critic Janice Ryan previewed one of Poitras’s recent exhibitions, an ambitious collection of works layered with handwritten text, vintage photos, stamps and newspaper clippings placed over a background of thinned oil and acrylic paint . “The work is engaging for its beauty alone,” Ryan wrote. “But up close is where the cerebral journey begins, unraveling fragments of information, both subtle and in-your-face pronouncements, to reveal the story this imaginative
artist is telling.”

One of the key aspects of her art that sets it apart from the work of other artists is her ability to combine and reconcile disparate themes and elements to create fully resolved works that convey information on different levels. Commenting on her art, Poitras says “each blank canvas is an invitation to a journey of discovery. I may begin with an idea of what the final destination—the completed painting—may be, but I’m always open to the unexpected. As Carl Beam said, the art of placement is a spiritual act. Each step in the creative process may reveal unexpected choices that require decisions.

“The final decision for each piece is to know when it is resolved, when it is finished.”
The art of Jane Ash Poitras is featured in dozens of prestigious private, public and corporate collection.

She is represented by the Bearclaw Gallery in Edmonton, the Canada House Gallery in Banff, the Kinsman Robinson Galleries in Toronto and Galerie d’Art Vincent in Ottawa.


 

Another Award For Iconic Dene Artist Alex Janvier

Iconic Dene artist Dr. Alex Janvier CM AOE RCA may be 82, but he`s still painting, still inspiring succeeding generations . . . and still receiving awards.

His most recent honor is the 2017 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award which also went to poet Alice Major and composer John Estacio. At a recent presentation luncheon at the Banff Centre each recipient received a handcrafted medal, $30,000 and a two-week residency at the Banff Centre`s Leighton Artist`s Studio.

His many other awards include the Order of Canada; the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal; the Alberta Order of Excellence; honorary doctorates from the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta, the Alberta Centennial Medal; and the Governor General Award in Visual and Media Arts.

Born of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent on the Cold Lake (Alberta) Reserve in 1935, Alex was eight years old when he was uprooted from his home and sent to the Blue Quills Indian Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta. Although Janvier says he had a creative instinct from as far back as he can remember, it was at the residential school that he was given the tools to create his first paintings. Unlike many Aboriginal artists of his time, Janvier went on to receive formal art training from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary and graduated with honours in 1960. Immediately after graduation, Janvier accepted an opportunity to instruct art at the University of Alberta.

While Alex credits the influence of artists Wassily Kandinsky (Russian) and Paul Klee (Swiss), his style is unique. Many of his masterpieces involve an eloquent blend of both abstract and representational images with bright, often symbolic colours. As a First Nations person emerging from a history of oppression and many struggles for cultural empowerment, Janvier paints both the challenges and celebrations that he has encountered in his lifetime. Alex proudly credits the beadwork and birch bark basketry of his mother and other relatives as influencing his art.

As a member of the commonly referred to “Indian Group of Seven”, Janvier is one of the significant pioneering Aboriginal artists in Canada, and as such has influenced many generations of Aboriginal artists. By virtue of his art, Janvier was selected to represent Canada in a Canadian/Chinese Cultural Exchange in 1985.

Although he has completed several murals nationally, Janvier speaks of the 450 square-meter circular masterpiece entitled “Morning Star” on the ceiling of the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now History), as a major highlight in his career. In January 2004, one of Janvier’s works was displayed in Paris, France at the Canadian Forum on e Cultural Enterprise.

Last year, a Janvier design was replicated in bits of glass in a 45-foot in diameter installation at the entrance to the new Rogers Centre arena in Edmonton–a $1 million art project.

In recognition of his success, Alex Janvier recently received three prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, The Tribal Chiefs Institute, and Cold Lake First Nations. Janvier’s passion and natural talents for creative expression remains strong to this day.

In 2012 the new Janvier Gallery opened on Cold Lake First Nations 149B, which is located north of the City of Cold Lake.