Topic: ARTS

Emily Carr University Presents Honorary Doctorates to Esteemed Art and Design Leaders: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun Lets’lo:tseltun and Terry Irwin

Vancouver, BC – Two internationally revered leaders in North America’s art and design community will be recognized for their inimitable contributions to the fields of contemporary art and transition design by Emily Carr University this spring. Contemporary Canadian artist of Coast Salish and Okanagan descent and ECU alum Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun Lets’lo:tseltun and Head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University Terry Irwin will be awarded with Honorary Doctorates at ECU’s convocation ceremony on May 4, 2019 at 1pm. In addition, Vancouver Island artist/activist and ECU alum Marianne Nicolson will receive ECU’s Emily Award, which honours outstanding achievements by university alumni.

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun Lets’lo:tseltun

“It is our great honour and privilege at Emily Carr University to publicly recognize the immense contributions to the fields of contemporary art and design made by these three individuals as dynamic artists, innovative designers, and compelling advocates,” says Gillian Siddall, ECU’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “As provocative leaders in their respective fields, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun Lets’lo:tseltun, Terry Irwin, and Marianne Nicolson embody the spirit and purpose of Emily Carr University — making a bold and lasting impact on creative practice and cultural engagement, thereby inspiring and informing the facilitation of future thought leaders and change makers.”

Lauded for artistic works that are at once challenging, political, confrontational, and playful, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun Lets’lo:tseltun will be presented with an Honorary Doctor of Letters for his artistic creations, activism, and unique and persistent voice for change. A painter, sculptor, virtual reality and performance artist, Yuxweluptun Lets’lo:tseltunhas spent the past three decades exploring issues of colonization, politics, and the environment.

He graduated from Emily Carr University in 1983 with an honours degree in painting and uses surrealism, formline, ovoid forms and neon-bright colours to compel viewers to examine issues through a different lens. Yuxweluptun Lets’lo:tseltun’swork has been displayed in many international group and solo exhibitions, including the National Gallery of Canada. In 2016, Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology presented Unceded Territories, a hugely successful retrospective exhibition spanning his expansive 30-year art career.

A highly accomplished designer, professor, and faculty head at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, artistic innovator Terry Irwin will be presented with an Honorary Doctor of Letters for her considerable and influential contributions to the field of design education. With a design background in corporate identity and branding, Irwin has been teaching at the university level since 1986, with faculty positions at numerous esteemed design institutions in the United States and Scotland. In 1992, she became a partner and creative director with international design firm MetaDesign, one of the leading design firms in the world. Toward the end of her time at MetaDesign, she began to see links between the things she was designing and many of the larger problems in the world, which prompted her to shift her career trajectory entirely, in 2001.

Undertaking a Master’s Degree in Holistic Science at Schumacher College, an international centre for ecological studies, her approach to thinking about and teaching design fundamentally shifted, leading to her current position at Carnegie Mellon, where she led a three-and-a-half-year process with faculty to place design for society and the environment at the heart of all curricula. She is now on the leading edge of Transition Design, an exciting and impactful new area of design study, practice and research that argues for societal transition toward more sustainable futures, calling upon the need for openness, mindfulness and collaboration in design. 

A 1996 Emily Carr University graduate and member of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations, Vancouver Island-based artist and advocate Marianne Nicolson will be presented with the Emily Award, an annual honour to acknowledge outstanding achievements by distinguished university alumni. An internationally exhibited artist and outspoken advocate for Indigenous land rights, Nicolson explores traditional Northwest Coast artistic expressions through contemporary media. Her multi-disciplinary practice encompasses photography, painting, carving, video, installation, writing and speaking.

Exhibited in the 17th Biennale of Sydney, Australia, Vancouver Art Gallery, the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, Nuit Blanche in Toronto, and many others, many of Nicolson’s works are monumental in size and scope. Her public artworks are currently on display around the world, in the Vancouver International Airport, the Canadian Embassy in Amman, Jordan and the Canadian Embassy in Paris, France.

In celebration of ECU’s 2019 graduating students, members of the public are invited to experience The Show at Emily Carr at ECU (520 E 1st Ave), on from May 4-19, 2019 from 10am to 8pm on weekdays and from 10am to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The Show features artworks by more than 300 graduating Design, Visual Arts and Media Arts students, and installations will be exhibited throughout the entirety of ECU’s campus, offering unprecedented access to the building’s interior spaces. Free to the public, the art show features several ancillary events, including:

Opening Night Party

Friday, May 3 from 5pm to 10pm

Premiere Screening of Graduate Films

Sunday, May 5

2pm to 5:30pm — Film + Screen Arts graduates

7pm to 10pm — 2D + Experimental Animation and 3D Computer Animation graduates

Best of Animation + Film/Video Showcase + Reception

Wednesday, May 8 from 6pm to 9pm

For a full listing of all ECU events and artists, visit

About Emily Carr University of Art and Design (

Emily Carr University of Art + Design is a world leader in education and research. Encouraging experimentation at the intersections of art, design, media and technology, Emily Carr merges studio practice, research and critical theory in an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment. Founded in Vancouver in 1925 and situated on traditional, unceded Coast Salish territory, the university has nearly 2,000 students enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs, and thousands more taking workshops, certificate programs and individual courses. Their faculty and alumni are internationally recognized as award-winning creators and thought leaders who have significant impact on both the cultural sector and the economy.

Call For Applications: CSV/imagineNATIVE Residency: New Opportunity for Enhanced Support for Projects-in-Progress

Deadline: April 26, 2019.

imagineNATIVE is accepting applications for the annual Charles Street Video/imagineNATIVE Residency professional development commission program for Greater Toronto and Hamilton-Area based Indigenous filmmakers.

The eighth iteration of the annual Residency provides a mid-career artist support and skills development with new video-making technology which for THIS YEAR ONLY enhances the completion of a current production with a commitment to be completed for the 20th anniversary imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, October 22-26, 2019!

Past Recipients include Jennifer Dysart, Cara Mumford and most recently Jonathan Elliot for Her Water Drum (2018).

This program offers the opportunity to enhance a current project create a short film (5-10min) using the in-kind and monetary resources of each partnering artist-run centre, plus a $1,000 CAD bursary, along with mentorship support.

Eligible applicants must adhere to imagineNATIVE’s Artistic and Programming Policies.

Full listings for the individual programs with the partner organizations are listed below:

Charles Street Video (Toronto)

For more information and application details, click here.

Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

Jade Tootoosis
Jade Tootoosis in one of many rallies that sparked outrage throughout Canada
The late Colten Boushie
The late Colten Boushie

August 9, 2016, was a hot summer afternoon. Colten Boushie, a young Cree man from the Red Pheasant First Nation, spent the day swimming with friends. On the drive back home their car got a flat tire so the group decided to walk to a farmer’s home to get some help. What transpired was truly shocking. After they entered Gerald Stanley’s rural property, Boushie would die from a gunshot to the back of his head.

Last year’s acquittal of Stanley by an all-white jury captured international attention. The verdict raised questions about racism embedded within Canada’s legal system and propelled Colten’s family on to the national and international stages in their pursuit of Justice.

The latest documentary sensitively directed by Tasha Hubbard is Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up. The film weaves a profound narrative. It encompasses the filmmaker’s own adoption, the stark history of colonialism on the prairies, and a transformative vision of a future where Indigenous children can live safely on their homeland.

Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up has been chosen to open the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on April 25. The film follows the Boushie family, their lawyers, and others as they seek Justice to this senseless act that caused national and international outrage directed against the Canadian justice system.

The documentary shows Colten’s sister, Jade Tootoosis, addressing the United Nations. In her April 2018 speech, Jade recommended that the UN Special Rapporteur – an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme – undertake a study on the systemic racism and discrimination on Indigenous people within the juridical and legal systems in Canada. Jade received a huge ovation after delivering her speech.

“This study must produce recommendations to insure the protection of Indigenous families who utilize the judicial and legal system. This will advance our calls on the Canadian government to establish a royal commission on the elimination of racism in the justice system,” said Jade.

Colten’s mother, Debbie Baptise said that she was waiting for her son to come home the evening of her son’s death, when RCMP showed-up at her home.

“I had put Colten’s supper in the microwave, and was waiting for him to get home, when my son told me, look at all those cars coming,” said Baptise. “The cops burst into my home and told me, what’s Colton Bouchie to you?”

Debbie told the police that Colten was her son, upon which they abruptly told her that her son was deceased.

“I was in shock, then the cops held my hands to my back and told me if I had been drinking.”

This was the treatment the RCMP showed on a night when a  mother received devastating news that her son had just been killed.

Eleanore Sunchild is one of the Boushie family’s attorneys. The film includes the press conference where Sunchild said that the acquittal sent a message that it’s open season on Indigenous people followed by her calling out a biased judicial system. “But it’s not open season on our people; the whole process was stacked against the Boushie family from the beginning,” added Sunchild.

Sheldon Wuttunee is former chief of the Red Pheasant First Nation. Just before Gerald Stanley’s 2017 second degree murder trial, he told reporters that there was still a little inkling of faith in the legal system.

“I don’t know if ‘justice system’ is the proper term, but when we can use excuses in today’s society as an engine revving, and a vehicle driving into my yard, someone hopping onto my quad, to chasing them [Boushie’s friends] and smashing their windows [referring to Stanley smashing Boushies vehicle windows], kicking their tail-lights, shooting them [again, referring to Stanley shooting], then we’re in a very troubled place,” said Wuttunee.

Wuttunee cites long-standing animosity and racism between whites and indigenous as the root of the problem. “This racism has been around us for many, many generations, this is not strange to us. It is the non-native narrative that usually wins, and that’s got to change,” said Wuttunee.

The film’s opening at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival will make history when it becomes the first film by an Indigenous filmmaker to open Hot Docs and the first National Film Board (NFB), work to open the festival since its inaugural year. The largest documentary festival in North America, it runs through May 5.

The documentary is a Downstream/ NFB production. The NFB will be rolling out the film via festival, theatrical, and community screenings over the course of this year. CBC will broadcast Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up in the fall. First Nations Drum will publish a review of Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up in the April 2019 issue.

World Issues Inspire Jerilynn Webster’s songs

Jerilynn Webster, also known by her hip-hop name JB the First Lady, wanted to be an activist since she was five years old when she experienced the Oka Crisis. Now 34, she’s been working every since to better the lives of Indigenous women and girls across the country.

She’s released seven albums in seven years. Her newest album is titled Righteous Empowered Daughter (RED) for which she was nominated for best music video and best hip hop/rap album of the year from the Indigenous Music Awards.

Understanding the complexities of gender was also an important message for her.

“[This album] speaks a lot about clean water, missing and murdered Indigenous women, but also protecting and respecting our Two-Spirit people. That’s very important to me,” she says. “I feel like Two-Spirit people don’t get the honor and respect that they need. So I wanted that reflected in the album.”

She works at the grassroots level, planning rallies and holding candlelight vigils for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. She says the album explores how young Indigenous women are interacting with the world.

“It’s not just our most vulnerable, but it can also be our women who are going to school to those active as community leaders,” she says. “And that’s because we’re being targeted as Indigenous women and we need to protect each other.”

Webster also works at a federal and legislative level. She occupied the INAC office in Vancouver in 2016, along with other mothers and their children. They wanted the federal government to provide for Indigenous communities, prioritizing funds for language programs, as well as reinstating youth programming that had been cut.

She currently works a lot with youth and wants to see the world change for girls. She worked with Vancouver dance troupe Butterflies in Spirit, whose mission is to raise awareness of violence against Indigenous women and girls.  She also created a comic with young Indigenous girls that was later adapted into a theatre piece.

“It was about experiential youth who have experienced sex trade work,” she says. “It’s a preventative interactive theatre piece with stories of how people were trying to recruit young women into sex work.”

Webster says she wants the future to bring a safe space for Indigenous women.

“I want to see a world that’s a safe space with no more missing posters,” she says. “A place where we can live freely, practice our culture, celebrate, give birth, and be proud of who we are, to be loved and respected.”

Indspire Awards 2019

This years Indspire Awards was held in Calgary, Alberta at the Jubilee Auditorium on February 22nd. The event was beautifully designed all the way down to the free bannock and popcorn, and a memorable stage designed to come to life with nature inspired video graphics. Gracing this stage were the honourable recipients whose unyielding dedication to their passions, community, and culture has earned them an Indspire achievement award.

From Driftpile Cree Nation, AB, poet Billy-Ray Belcourt received the youth achievement award. At 23, his debut poetry collection This Wound Is A World has won multiple awards, most notable the Griffin Poetry Prize. His next poetry-prose hybrid NDN Coping Mechanism: Notes from the Field comes out in the Fall of 2019. Belcourt says that when he writes, he’s “always interested in how to refuse the narratives of suffering that have, for decades, demarcated how the public can understand native people. I’m always keeping my eye on how to breach that narrative, how to instead spin-one that always keeps in mind our futurity as native people, our ability to  love and care, to resist, to enact the kind of liberatory world that we want – that’s all at the core of my writing practice.”

From Sanikiluaq, NU, pop-artist Kelly Fraser received the youth achievement award. She won album of the year for her second album Sedna which was written with a mix of Inuktitut and English lyricism.

From Metis Homeland, MB, canoe and kayak athlete James Lavalee received the youth achievement award. It’s on his blood memory to paddle the waters of his homeland, and by following the pull to pursue this professionally, he’s reached extraordinary heights. In 2017, he won three medals at the Canada Summer Games, and received the highly prestigious Tom Longboat Award for indigenous male athlete of the year.

The Arts recipient this year was Barbara Todd Hager from St. Paul Des Metis Settlement, AB. She is a writer, producer, and director. Her docu-drama series 1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus covers 20,000 years of history and is told from the indigenous perspective. This is the kind of powerful narrative that the film industry is in need of, thank-you Hager for putting your mind to it!

Award recipient for Business & Commerce  went to Westbank First Nations (BC) Chief Ron Derrickson. Elected as Chief of his nation in 1976, his business models have lifted his community out of poverty and they are now one of the wealthiest bands in the country. .

Jijuu Mary Snow Shoe from Gwich-in Nation, NT received the award for Culture, Heritage, and Spirituality. Her greatest lessons were those taught to her by her father. He taught her how to survive on this earth, and of the importance of land, fire, and water – these are the true powers of the world. Snow Shoe tells First Nation Drum “I really would like to leave this with the youth, to go and get their education, to go to university, become a doctor or nurse or whatever, it’s all out there but they have to work for it to get it. Another one, to try to learn more about their culture, and how to survive out on the land.”

Dr. Vianne Timmons from Mi’kmaq, NS received the education award. As the Vice Chancellor at the University of Regina, Timmons says, “Indigenous youth are Canada’s next generation of leaders, so there is nothing more important than ensuring they get the education they deserve. Education opens doors, creates opportunity, build leaders, and changes lives.”

Dr. Marlyn Cook from Misipawistik Cree Nation, MB received the award for health. In 1987, she was the first First Nations woman to graduate from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine. Though something was amiss for her with all this western medical knowledge,and now weaves traditional healing together with western healing, ensuring the body, mind, and spirit of each patient is cared for.

For Law & Justice the award went to community-oriented lawyer Dianne Corbiere from M’Chigeeng First Nation, ON. “In some ways we’re doing great because we have the Indspire awards and we see that if we work really hard and things are fortunate for us we can reach some very high goals! But there’s still a lot of our people who are struggling with the colonial realities, and you know, they’re addicted, they’re in jail, they’re in the child welfare system – so we have both, and I’d like to see where the pendulum swings more my way and that the kids are going to school, and having better lives.” She has dedicated her time at the Law Society of Ontario to many working groups and review panels, such as the working group formed by the federation of Law Societies of Canada to decide how best to respond to the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation report.

For public service the award went to Peter Dinsdale from Curve Lake First Nation. He has dedicated his life to improving the lives his indigenous brothers and sisters, and does so in his position as President and CEO of YMCA Canada.

From Mallard, Manitoba and Cote First Nation, SK, Bridgette Lacquette received the sports achievement award. She played in Canada’s National Women’s Team at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. From a small community, dedication and resilience is what rose Lacquette to be among the best women hockey players in the world.

Even though she couldn’t make it to the ceremony, Atuat Akittirq was given a standing ovation and many blessings for her lifetime achievement award. From Aggu, NU, Akittirq embodies the resilience of Inuit knowledge and language. She was brought up in the traditional way, and continues to teach her traditional knowledge of culture and life as one of the Elder professors at the Piruvik Centre.

Amazing achievement, all resting on the backbone of determination, resilience, and education, definitely an inspiring evening for all who attended. Congratulations to this years Indspire recipients, your work is beautiful and makes all First Nations proud.

WAG Presents First Retrospective of Mary Yuusipik Singaqti

Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories – on now until March 10, 2019

Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories – on now until March 10, 2019


Winnipeg, Manitoba, November 14, 2018: Born in the Back River area north of Baker Lake, Nunavut, artist Mary Yuusipik Singaqti became well known for her wall-hangings and carvings. But Winnipeg Art Gallery Curator of Inuit Art, Dr. Darlene Coward Wight, was “blown away” to discover a collection of her coloured-pencil drawings. Some of these incredibly detailed pieces are featured in the new exhibition, Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories, which opened last weekend and runs until March 10, 2019.

A second exhibit, Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake, opens at the WAG this Saturday, bringing together wall hangings by nine artists, most of whom are women. Nivinngajuliaat, or “wall hanging” in Inuktitut, includes work by Mary Yuusipik’s acclaimed mother, Jessie Uunaq (Oonark). The exhibition is guest curated by Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, Curator of Inuit Art for the Government of Nunavut Fine Art Collections. Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake is on view from November 17, 2018 through spring 2019.

The two exhibitions connected by both family and land will be celebrated at a free opening for the public on Friday, November 30 (7-10pm), 2018 at the WAG.

Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories is the first solo exhibition of the artist who was born in a remote inland region north of Baker Lake. It features 26 captivating drawings recently purchased by the WAG, as well as striking wall hangings and sculptures.

Yuusipik (1936-2017) belonged to the last generation of Inuit to experience the inland nomadic way of life that centred on fishing and hunting caribou. Her artistic motivation was to show her life, “I want the younger generation to know about me, how we used to live [and] how life was before.”

Featured artists include Dr. Irene Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq, Naomi Ityi, Victoria Mamnguqsualuk Kayuryuk, Miriam Qiyuk, Jimmy Taipanak, Winnie Tatya, Marion Tuu’luuq, and Jessie Uunaq (Oonark).

The public is invited to celebrate the launch of Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories and Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake, along with three more new WAG exhibitions, on Friday, November 30 from 7:00 to 10:00pm.

The WAG is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery and houses over 27,000 artworks spanning centuries, media, and cultures, including the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world.


The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Dana Claxton: Fringing the Cube

Dana Claxton, Headdress–Jeneen, 2018

Dana Claxton, Headdress–Jeneen, 2018

The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Dana Claxton: Fringing the Cube, the first-ever survey of the work of the provocative Vancouver-based Hunkpapa Lakota (Sioux) artist Dana Claxton, which runs until February 3, 2019. Photography, film, video and performance documentation trace nearly 30 years of Claxton’s career and her investigations into Indigenous identity, beauty, gender and the body.

Kathleen S. Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, says as a prolific multidisciplinary artist, Dana Claxton has been an important voice for reclaiming narratives around Indigenous culture through striking critique of stereotypes and ideologies.

“From the Indigenous portraits captured to stunning effect in her ‘fireboxes’, to the dramatic video installations that retell the stories of her Hunkpapa Lakota (Sioux) people, Dana’s emotive works compel audiences to re-examine their understanding of Indigenous art.”

Merging Lakota traditions with so-called Western influences, while utilizing a powerful “mix, meld and mash” approach, Claxton addresses the oppressive legacies of colonialism by critiquing representations of Indigenous people that circulate in art, literature and popular culture. Such potent criticism can be found in early video works such as I Want to Know Why (1994), a searing protest against the depredations of colonialism, and The Red Paper (1996), which parodies Shakespearian drama while providing an Indigenous view of the European invasion of the Americas.

Other early video installations that brought Claxton widespread attention are also represented in the exhibition, including the mixed media installation Buffalo Bone China (1997), which looks at the mass slaughter of the buffalo and the disastrous consequences it held for the Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains. These works are accompanied by multi-channel video projections, including Rattle (2003), which eschews narrative convention, taking the form of a visual prayer with its mirrored imagery and hypnotic audio comprising traditional Lakota rattles (instruments of healing) along with synthesizers and peyote singing.

Claxton’s widely acclaimed photographic works play a prominent role in the exhibition. These include The Mustang Suite (2008), five staged photographic portraits of a contemporary Indigenous family, with each member appearing with their own form of “mustang”—be it a car, bicycle or pony. Also featured are the AIM photographs (2010), Claxton’s images of declassified FBI documents on the American Indian Movement.

Complex questions regarding beauty, cultural appropriation and the construction of identity are prevalent in Claxton’s photography project Indian Candy (2013), a series of aluminum-mounted chromogenic prints, which includes Tonto Prayer, a work that portrays Jay Silverheels, the Mohawk actor from the 1950s television series The Lone Ranger. Claxton further confronts such questions in her brilliant “firebox” or illuminated lightbox works depicting Indigenous women as seen in Headdress (2015) and Cultural Belongings (2016).

“I am in awe and grateful that the Vancouver Art Gallery and Grant Arnold have selected to curate this survey exhibition spanning twenty-eight years. I am elated to be sharing my video installations, photography and performance with a Vancouver audience. Combined the work speaks of a Lakota sensibility of time/place/space/spirit and the complexities of our shared socio-political-cultural realities,” says Dana Claxton.


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.


Tina Keeper Discusses “Through Black Spruce”

Tina Keeper (producer)

Tina Keeper (producer)


Through Black Spruce, a project produced by Tina Keeper is a movie that touches on issues that relate to Canada’s Murdered and Indigenous Women. The film has received rave reviews in screenings across Canada and at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.

Keeper, a Cree actress, producer, activist, and former member of parliament and is best known for her role as, Michelle Kenidi, the RCMP officer in the CBC 1990’s television series, North of 60. Keeper optioned the book in 2012 and began looking for funding and someone to direct the book into a movie. Keeper was looking for a director that could interpret and bring to the screen Indigenous issues that tell the story of a First Nations family coping with their missing daughter. After looking at many potential directors, Keeper hand-picked Don McKeller, a Canadian director, writer and filmmaker with such credits as The Red Violin, and the critically acclaimed, Last Night.

The story is about Annie (Tanaya Betty) who searches for her sister Suzanne who disappeared while modelling in Toronto. The film also centres around Will (Brandon Oaks) the uncle also dealing with the disappearance.

Keeper says the novel was very personal to her and wanted to work closely with the writer, Joseph Boyden in the creation of the movie.

“The book really spoke to me because it was set in the Treaty 9 territory where my late mother was originally from,” Keeper said. “Plus in the book, the Bird family, who are a intergenerational family of the residential schools.”

Through Black Spruce lead actors, Tanaya Betty (Annie) and Brandon Oaks (Will)

Through Black Spruce lead actors, Tanaya Betty (Annie) and Brandon Oaks (Will)

I asked Keeper about the experience working with the two main characters, Tanaya Betty, who plays Annie and Will played by Brandon Oaks.

“They are genuinely nice kind people, very considerate, measured artists and very thoughtful on how they’re performing,” says Keeper. “Both of them came to the project and made filming a beautiful experience. They each brought their own visions to the characters and they were always prepared. I was really impressed with both of their performances which were just Steller!”

The film also features veteran and respected actors Tantoo Cardinal and Graham Greene. Both actors are best remembered in the 1990 blockbuster, Dances With Wolves, where they played man and wife.

“We were so thrilled to have both of them (Cardinal and Greene), they were a dream to work with, and I’ve worked with them in the past as an actor. They brought incredible life to the characters. Their roles are a reference point of the film and they’re both such master crafters.”

The movie explores how a young Cree woman’s disappearance traumatizes her family in two communities, the remote Northern Ontario community of Moosonee, where she fled from years ago to the city of Toronto where she vanishes.

“One of the elements of the story in the film is about the setting in the town of Moosonee. We were honoured to work with local language dialect coaches, for the northern Cree language and cultural advisors,” Keeper said. “Through the experience of working with the people of Moosonee, we saw the resilience of the people in that community, and that is what this film is about, the resilience of the Bird family.”

Don McKeller, told Breakfast Television in Toronto, that in the book, the character Suzanne, works as a model in New York, Toronto and Montreal, but in the film we scaled it down to Toronto.

“As an outsider I heard stories of the troubles in communities like Attawapiskat, but I never been up there, so when I read the script, I immediately got into theses characters,” McKeller said. “I could feel the family, and the repercussions of what they were going through.”

Keeper says the reaction to the film, in terms of the film festivals, they’ve had near sell-out on all the screenings, and have been getting good feedback.

“What I hope audiences will take away from this film is that they remember the family portrayed in the movie and remember this region which most Canadians don’t ever get to see. I just really hope people take away some knowledge of the culture of the Northern Cree. Also how the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women affects people and families, because they say this is a national tragedy and we try to honour their stories as best we can in this project.”

The film opens on March 22, 2019.