Topic: ARTS

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.

 

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.

National Film Board looking forward to final year of National Cinema Tour


Donna Cowan is a networking agent for the National Film Board of Canada, and she spoke with
First Nations Drum about the Aabiziingwashi (Wide Awake) tour, a must see for communities and educators wanting to view films made by Indigenous film makers.

“The Aabiziingwashi (Wide Awake) collection is comprised of NFB films that have been made by Indigenous directors,” Cowan said. “Currently there are almost 250 films, and that number continues to grow as the NFB has committed 15 percent of its production budget to Indigenous-made films.”

Nearly 1,100 screenings of the Aabiziingwashi film collection have been held across Canada since 2017. Many Canadians have sat in dark theatres, community centres, church halls, and schools to learn about treaties, policies that created residential schools, Sixties Scoop, the current child welfare system, and their devastating effects.

“Through these films and the powerful discussions that follow, people are better understanding this dark history and the systems that are still in place today resulting in many Canadians demanding more of themselves, and of their government, with respect to Reconciliation,” said Cowan.

Cowan says screenings have also taken place in small, remote First Nation, Metis, and Inuit communities across Turtle Island. From Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to Kivalliq Region in Nunavut to Lennox Island First Nation on the East Coast, Indigenous-made NFB films have brought communities together to hear ancestors speak their language and to learn more about their history and cultural traditions.

Children watching a film on a screen made of snow.

 

“Our community partners across the country have also been very creative,” Cowan said. “In Ottawa at the Asinabka, festival films were shown on screens made of snow, in Vancouver they screened in a longhouse, and in Toronto the audience watched a 40 foot blow up screen as they sat under the stars.”   

I asked Cowan, how have audiences reacted to the selected films across the country?

“The response to the Aabiziingwashi (Wide Awake) Indigenous Cinema tour has been very positive so far. We will continue to offer these films for community screenings as well as for individual viewing on our website at NFB.ca/Wideawake. Educators can use these films in classrooms by subscribing to CAMPUS, our educational website.”

The film collection dates back to 1967 when the “Indian Film Crew” was formed as part of a community engagement initiative to use film as a tool for change by training Indigenous filmmakers to tell their powerful stories from their point of view.

The first film created was The Ballad of Crowfoot, by Willie Dunn. Recent releases include Alanis Obomsawin’s Our People Will be Healed, a story about the new school in Norway House; We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice, which followed Cindy Blackstock as she challenged the Canadian government and fought for the welfare of Indigenous children on reserve; Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s Angry Inuk is a film showing the devastating effects on the Inuit communities after the ban on the commercial seal hunt; Tasha Hubbard profiled Betty Ann Adam and the reunification of her siblings as they deal with the after effects of the Sixties Scoop in Birth of a Family; and Marie Clements’s musical documentary The Road Forward examines the connection between Indigenous nationalism in the 1930s and First Nations activism today.

For the last 26 years Cowan has focused on festivals, film screenings, comedy theatres, filmmakers, and actors. As vice president of operations at Second City in Chicago, she increased sales, and improved morale. In 2004 she joined the National Film Board of Canada’s marketing department, becoming integral in the launch and distribution of most of the top films the NFB launched in the last decade.

“It is films like these from our collections that have helped Canadians to understand the issues a little bit better, and provide thoughtful insight into the images they see on the nightly news,” said Cowan.

Persons and organizations interested in booking a film can discuss their interest with the NFB team who will provide suggestions and help curate local screening for their particular audience.

 

Lakehead University Student’s Art Featured on New Coin

Mary McPherson pictured with Scene of my Elders Emerging from an Inauthentic Past, a drawing she did last year.

Mary McPherson pictured with Scene of my Elders Emerging from an Inauthentic Past, a drawing she did last year.

Photo courtesy of The Royal Canadian Mint

Photo courtesy of The Royal Canadian Mint

A fourth-year visual arts student at Lakehead University says it feels incredible to have designed one side of a new coin for the Royal Canadian Mint.

The Royal Canadian Mint asked Mary McPherson to participate in the design process for the new coin.

She was thrilled when the Mint chose her image of Tecumseh, a legendary Shawnee war leader who allied himself with the British and heroically led hundreds of First Nations warriors into battle at such places as Fort Meigs and most famously, Detroit.

Released on Tuesday, Sept. 4, the new coin recognizes the 250th anniversary of Tecumseh’s birth.

“It feels incredibly different than the work that I usually produce,” said McPherson, who is Ojibway and a member of Couchiching First Nation.

“I’ve never had an artistic experience quite like this one. I feel extremely grateful to have had the honour of drawing Tecumseh and having the design immortalized on a coin.”

McPherson said she learned a lot during the process.

“What I particularly realized throughout the duration of this project was how Tecumseh had, according to Dickason and Newbigging, ‘sided with the British, not because he liked them particularly but because he saw them as the lesser of two evils,’” she said.

“Tecumseh fought for the wellbeing and independence of his people. He had also united Indigenous nations, in resistance to a divide-and-conquer mentality, while maintaining the essential notion that the land was to be shared among all peoples and was not something to be owned.”

The MM on the right side of the coin represents McPherson’s initials. McPherson said her Lakehead University education helped her immensely with this process.

“Through Visual Arts and Indigenous Learning, I was able to improve my drawing skills, research skills, and time management skills, which aided me in completing this project.”

For more information about the coin, visit the Royal Canadian Mint website.

 

SKOOKUM Music Festival Draws Huge Crowd Despite Monsoon Rainfall

Headliners The Killers performing on final night | Photo by Johnathan Evans

Headliners The Killers performing on final night | Photo by Johnathan Evans

 

SKOOKUM Music Festival Draws Huge Crowd Despite Monsoon Rainfall

By Kelly Many Guns and Laura Balance Media Group

An estimated 50,000 music lovers were enchanted by over 50 stage performances involving some of the world’s most famed artists during the inaugural SKOOKUM Festival, held September 7 to 9 at iconic Stanley Park – one of the biggest urban green recreational areas.

Festival director Paul Runnals said when his organizing team envisioned SKOOKUM, their goal was to create an event that was accessible, inclusive, and sustainable. “Our team wanted to produce a festival that would be unlike anything done before in this region, successfully incorporating food, art, culture, and of course music. The response we had throughout the weekend was overwhelmingly positive,” said Runnals.

Incessant weekend rain showers couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of festival-goer’s on hand there to see headlining acts The Killers, Florence + The Machine, the Arkells, Metric, and many others. Aboriginal artist Murray Porter, the Mohawk piano player from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, played his country blues. Porter’s soulful voice sang contemporary stories about Canada’s Indigenous people, and also on the universal theme of love.

Performing before a hyper crowd at one of the smaller meadow stages on Saturday evening was The Snotty Nose Rez Kids, the hip-hop duo from the Haisla Nation of the Haislakal-speaking people. Recreating their identities within their own contexts, they aim to reclaim their voices and share them with a wider audience.  

Crystal Shawanda of the Wikwemikong First Nation belted out a country rock and blues-filled set under a Sunday afternoon monsoon downpour. Though Shawanda’s parents raised her on country music and taught her how to sing and play guitar, it was her oldest brother who introduced her to the blues. He would hang out in the basement cranking out Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Etta James, and Crystal would sit at the top of the stairs straining to hear those soulful sounds.

The renowned, award-winning recording artist, educator, and visual artist Buffy Sainte-Marie performed on the Forest Stage as the rain came down. Sainte-Marie said she was honoured to be invited to play SKOOKUM and be surrounded by so many diverse musicians.

In 2017, she released Medicine Songs, a collection of songs about the environment, alternative conflict resolution, Indigenous realities, and greed. Part rhythmic healing, part trumpeting wake-up call, Medicine Songs is the soundtrack of the resistance.

Also well received was the SKOOKUM After Dark Program, which included 11 well-attended shows at various Vancouver venues.

More than 15,000 people attended opening night on Friday, with a crowd of 18,500 and 17,000 Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The majority of attendees were from the lower mainland and approximately 18 percent were from outside of region, resulting in a significant economic impact for the community.  

“An event of this magnitude doesn’t happen by accident,” said Runnals. “We have an incredible team at BRANDLIVE and hundreds of volunteers, all of who went above and beyond to deliver a world class event.”

Many festival attendees took advantage of transportation challenges associated with holding an event of this magnitude in Stanley Park by utilizing the SKOOKUM shuttle service, public transit, and EVO’s free valet service.

Along with reminders to recycle and compost, SKOOKUM Festival-goers were encouraged to reduce their environmental footprint by bringing their own reusable drink containers – and in large part they embraced the opportunity.

The Festival had no reports of major incidents, or medical-related issues.  

Event organizers pan to return to the Park Board and Local First Nations to seek a multi-year agreement that will bring back the festival in 2019.

 

Vines Art Festival

August 8-19, 2018 | vinesartfestival.com

Vines Art Festival, Vancouver’s unique multidisciplinary eco-arts festival, features over 70 performing and visual artists at parks throughout Vancouver: Trout Lake Park, Kitsilano Beach, CRAB Park, Granville Island, Roundhouse Community Centre, and Strathcona Park –  August 8th-19th, with the main event at Trout Lake Park on August 18th. In its fourth year, this 100% free, all-ages, event joins activism with the arts, not to mention it’s fun, interactive and celebratory!

Our featured artist duo is the Resilient Roots emerging artist, Jaz Whitford, spoken word performer from the Secwepemc Peoples, and Award Winning musician Sandy Scofield, who is Métis of Saulteaux and Cree Nations.

Resilient Roots is the heart of Vines Art Festival, bringing together emerging Indigenous artists who are also bearing their souls on the frontline grassroots movements, speaking out against the Pipelines and resource extraction, and combining art with activism – Artivism.

This year’s group is diverse and well spoken, with the emerging artists growing in their practice with the opportunity to work with an Indigenous mid-career artists to mentor them in creating a new, never-before-seen piece to be performed in the Finale of this summer’s festival on August 17th and 18th at Trout Lake Park!

The line up of the Resilient Roots program includes Alex Taylor McCallum with mentor Nikki Ermineskin, Jaye Simpson with mentor Edzi’u, Jaz Whitford with mentor Sandy Scofield, Mitcholos Touchie with mentor Jonina Kirton, Valeen Jules with mentor Rosemary Georgeson, and Crystal Smith with mentor Ronnie Dean Harris.

Our featured artist duo is the Resilient Roots emerging artist, Jaz Whitford, spoken word performer from the Secwepemc Peoples, and Award Winning musician Sandy Scofield, who is Métis of Saulteaux and Cree Nations.

Jaz is an anti-professional, working as a street musician, slam poet with a focus on decolonization and indigenous autonomy. they are a defender of the sacred and use their craft as a tool to decolonization and land sovereignty. they reside as a guest on unceded and ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-waututh), and sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nation peoples, otherwise and colonially known as Vancouver. they and their fire are from the Secwepemc nation of the south central interior.

Jaz has been presented by Vines Art Festival, Vancouver Verses Festival, Spartacus Books, Savage Society, Vancouver Poetry Festival and Vancouver Public Library. Jaz also sang with Arcade Fire in the 2018 Juno’s. They are in a mentorship with Sandy Scofield, creating their unique bluesy sound and they look forward to releasing their first album soon.

Jaz in the recording session with mentor Sandy Scofield in preparation for their first album to be released at Vines Festival 2018.

Sandy Scofield is a multi-award winning composer, musician and singer. She has studied classical, jazz, African, Indonesian gamelan and electro-acoustic music. A Métis from the Saulteaux and Cree Nations, she hails from four generations of fiddlers, singers and musicians. Among her four recordings to date, she has won five Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, a Canadian Folk Music Award, an Indian Summer Music Award (U.S.A.), a Western Canadian Music Award and received three consecutive Juno nominations. Over the years, she has mentored innumerable First Nations singers and songwriters in the way of rudimentary music theory, vocal techniques, songwriting craft and music-industry protocol. She has toured to festivals on five continents with the the International Rainforest World Music Festival in Borneo, 2011 making the fifth.  She has composed for dance, film, television and theatre, with the Aboriginal Welcoming Song for the 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, the highlight to date.

Upon interview with the two featured artists, Jaz says

“The importance of this mentorship to me is upholding indigenous values and teaching methods through a one on one relationship and community based teaching style.”

Sandy Scofield highlights that the mentor relationship is that of historical cultural practices of passing down knowledge in generations, is elated to be sharing studio time in this mentorship, and is proud of how gifted Jaz already is!

Jaz in the recording session with mentor Sandy Scofield in preparation for their first album to be released at Vines Festival 2018.