Topic: SLIDE

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.

 

Discover the Iniskim Centre at Mount Royal University


 

Mount Royal University’s Iniskim Centre offers programs and services to increase the engagement and success of Indigenous students while raising awareness of Indigenous peoples and cultures.  Mount Royal University is located on the traditional lands of the Blackfoot people, the Niitsitapi. The centre recognizes and respects the diversity of all Indigenous peoples of Canada. The centre also increases the awareness of distinct Indigenous cultures, history and protocols across the University.

With any program a student chooses, the Iniskim Centre will be there to help them prepare to succeed in their academic pursuits and future career. The Inskim Centre is here to encourage students throughout their program of study, providing resources such as academic and cultural support, academic advising, writing support, and scholarship information.

 

ABORIGINAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION PROGRAM

This program is a comprehensive support system designed to support students as they work towards a career in science and technology.

 

ABORIGINAL EDUCATION PROGRAM

Preparing students to pursue a postsecondary education with three levels of study providing upgrading in Math, English, Native Studies, and Science.

 

INDIGENOUS STUDENT HOUSING

A supportive community of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous students who live on campus. There are single units and family units at affordable rates. All students in the program gather for monthly social events.

 

MEDICINE TRAIL (NAATO’OHSOKOY) PROGRAM

Students can visit a coordinator and be a part of small and large group cultural teachings. They may also see a coordinator for support and guidance. The Iniskim Centre offers students a place and the resources to smudge each morning and hosts various ceremonies throughout the year.

A coordinator will also support professors by connecting them with wisdom keepers and elders.

 

STUDENT SUCCESS PROGRAM

Students have access to many of the resources provided by the centre such as, academic support, peer mentorship, counseling services, financial information, instructor office hours and tutorials. As a mentor, a student success coordinator will work with students to help ensure success.

To learn more about the Iniskim Centre and all supports available for Indigenous students, visit mru.ca/IndigenousMRU

Osoyoos Chief Inducted into Business Hall of Fame

From left to right: Claude Lamoureux O.C., FCIA, Chief Clarence Louie O.C., Annette Verschuren O.C., Stephen J. R. Smith. Photo credit: Tom Sandler (CNW Group/JA Canada)


 

Clarence Louie, Chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band will be inducted into the 2019 Canadian Business Hall of Fame, which recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of Canada’s most distinguished business leaders. Also being inducted are: Claude Lamoureux, retired president & CEO, Ontario Teachers’ Plan, Stephen J.R. Smith, chairman & CEO of First National Financial, and Annette Verschuren, chair & CEO of NRStor Inc.

Mr. David Denison, Chancellor of the Order of the Business Hall of Fame says the 2019 Class of Companion Inductees is a very special group.

“The Canadian Business Hall of Fame is honoured to recognize their enduring contributions to the business community and our country,” said Denison.  “On June 19, 2019, we will have the great privilege of highlighting their excellence in business leadership, outstanding professional achievements and dedication to bettering Canada’s social fabric.”

Clarence Louie who’ll be the first Indigenous person inducted into the Business Hall of Fame was born in 1960 and raised on the Osoyoos Indian Band by his mother. Due to high unemployment, many adults on his First Nation community had to work as transient labourers on fruit orchards in nearby Washington State. Louie was forced to be self-sufficient during his childhood years. At age 19, he left BC and enrolled at the First Nations University in Regina. He then studied native studies at the University of Lethbridge. After receiving his degree, he returned to home to Osoyoos.

At 24 years of age, Louie was elected as chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band. Louie has won every election but one since 1985. The band has 460 members, and controls 32,000 acres of land. He started the Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation (OIBDC) in 1988.Through the corporation’s efforts, the previously impoverished band started or acquired nine businesses, including tourism, construction, and recreation companies. The band now employs 700 people including non-First Nations. A high-profile business started by the OIBDC during Louie’s tenure is Nk’Mip Cellars, the first aboriginal-owned winery in North America.

In 2003, Louie was chosen by the U.S. Department of State as one of six Canadian First Nations leaders to review economic development in American Indian communities. In 2004, he received the Order of British Columbia. Louie has also been involved in land claim settlements with the provincial government.

The Canadian Business Hall of Fame was established by JA Canada in 1979 to honour Canada’s preeminent business leaders for their professional and philanthropic achievements.

This year’s Class of Companions will formally be inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame at the 2019 Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on June 19, 2019. Proceeds from this gala help JA Canada meet the growing demand for financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship programs for Canadian students, which are essential to youth’s future success

 

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.

 

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

 

WHAT LIES BEHIND A SMILE

WHAT LIES BEHIND A SMILE illustration
Don’t you just hate it when you think of something you would’ve, could’ve or should’ve said to some rude dude or dudett?

But, alas the moment has slipped away never ever to return again. Now you sit and stew about not being quicker on the trigger – being a smart-ass isn’t as easy as you may think.

If you’re going to shoot from the lip be wary of bombing. If you mouth off and miss your target audience, you run the risk of becoming ostracized, scorned or at the very least be mocked as a fool. When verbally sparring with a nitwit, remember that humor is a double edged sword. The other disaster you must avoid is cutting someone to the bone with your sharp tongue.

Words hurt.

Even an innuendo, if jabbed into the ribs a little too hard, can really smart. So if you like to jest with rest of your gang, think before your mouth goes bang. But don’t wait too long. Anything longer than the duration of a heartbeat may as well be an eternity – timing is everything in comedy.   

A real wise-ass will know what flies and what dies in a room full of crude dudes or white haired prudes. With the latter it’s like walking the high-wire; one wrong slip and you’re dead.

This brings us to sex. Both men and women love to screw around with one another, but women have their limits when it comes to what’s funny, what’s punny and what’s just plain ugly. Just like one man’s treasure is some woman’s trash. This is what’s known as walking on the razor’s edge.    

Now that we’ve covered timing, bombing and dancing with danger; the next lesson is lilt of voice and a cocky smile. There are those who couldn’t tell a joke if they read it from a tell-a-prompter. For ha, ha to work you have to play the part. For instance if you’re telling a tall tale about a squirrel – you have to act like a nut.

Delivery is as important as the witty words. Some people have a wry, mild sense of humor while others perform like a wild child with flailing arms and a voice like a morning alarm.     

Just like every trade has its tools, so does a jester. As an example, think of words as fire and just like fire words can burn. This is where a good vocabulary can make you a smarty pants star.

Other tools are exaggerating of the truth or even little white lies. If you can sell it and they buy it hook line and sinker – you too can be a little stinker.

A sense of humor is something most people look for in a mate or a date. We use humor as a coping mechanism or as a sarcasm shield or even a prelude to romance. If you can make someone smile; you can change their mind, mood and even turn them from foe to friend.

It takes years to hone humor to a sharp point. Being the witty life of the party doesn’t happen overnight. It takes knowledge, timing and a willingness to walk blindfolded up to the edge of an abyss.

My final bit of wit-wisdom advice is, knowing when to quit the wit. It may sound funny and sexy, but the last thing you want to do is pull a so called boner.    

 

THE END

Please feel free to Email Bernie Bates at: beeinthebonnet@shaw.ca

 

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.