Order of Canada Presented to Internationally Acclaimed Artist and Lecturer


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Another Award For Iconic Dene Artist Alex Janvier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Indigenous-Produced Docu-Drama Series “1491” Reveals Untold History of the Americas Before Columbus

The history of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, before and after 1492, has always been told from the point of view of the European settlers and in recent times, by non-Indigenous scholars. Until now. Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) will present the world premiere of the docu-drama series 1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus starting November 8th on APTN hd and e at 7:00 p.m. ET, APTN w at 7:00 p.m. MT and n North at 7:00 p.m. CT.

Based on Charles C. Mann’s best selling book, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, the eight hour miniseries, produced by Animiki See Digital Production of Winnipeg and Aarrow Productions of Victoria, takes its audience on a journey dating as far back as 20,000 years ago through to 1491. The series focuses on the origins and history of ancient civilizations and groundbreaking achievements in North and South America in the areas of agriculture, astronomy, architecture, environment, governance, medicine, technology, science, trade and art.

The series is produced, directed and written by Indigenous Canadians and most of the 35 historians, archaeologists, cultural experts and scholars interviewed have Indigenous ancestry. The series features an Indigenous cast of actors and cultural leaders who provide context on Indigenous history in the Americas.

“For many years it has been a dream for APTN to adapt Charles C. Mann’s groundbreaking New York Times Bestseller into a documentary miniseries,” said Jean La Rose, APTN Chief Executive Officer. “Many people are now displaying a greater openness to Indigenous perspectives and the time for this authentic story is fitting. Through the work of an amazing team of thought-provoking producers, scholars and talent, we hope to tell a new history of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas and our contributions to the world.”

Mann’s critically acclaimed book, 1491, dispels long-held theories that prior to European contact, Indigenous Peoples were largely nomadic, did not alter the natural landscape, and were not as advanced as other civilizations in the world at the time.

“I am thrilled that my book has inspired APTN and two Indigenous production companies to create a docu-drama series on the history of the Americas before Columbus’ arrival,” said Charles Mann. “I’m looking forward to seeing this team create an epic narrative of Indigenous history that is long overdue.”

Two award-winning filmmakers, Barbara Hager (Cree/Métis) and Lisa Jackson (Anishinaabe), directed the series in locations throughout North, Central and South America. The series was written by Barbara Hager and Marie Clements (Métis). Other key creatives include composer Russell Wallace (Lil’wat), production designer Teresa Weston, costume designer Carmen Thompson (Nuu-chah-nulth), director of photography Bob Aschmann, editors Michael Clark and Tyler F. Gamsby and narrator Dr. Evan Adams (Tla’amin).

“The opportunity to direct the dramatic scenes in this series that brings to life stories of our collective history, is both an honour and a creative challenge,” said Lisa Jackson, the series’ drama director. “My co-director Barbara Hager and I share a vision that this series must portray the history of Indigenous Peoples in an accurate, authentic and respectful way.”


For those of us who are not one of the one percent – Christmas can be a budget stretching, nerve racking stress fest.
Sorry for the reminder, but its better coming from a jokester like me than your spouse, your banker or even worse your in-laws.

Are you looking at a Ho, Ho, Ho season with not enough dough, dough, dough? Then my friend, you’d better get cracking, because the Chris Cringle cash crunch is coming down a chimney near you.

Just like Santa, you too, should make a list and check it twice. Think of your interactions with people over the past year. Who has been naughty to you, who has been nice and who deserves a lump of coal to fall on their head.
Start your list with the naughty, people who judge thee, the greedy and ending with something really naughty for the one you’re with.

At this time of year a lot of us wish upon a Christmas star in the hopes that the lotto-fairy would sprinkle a little lucky dust on us. But just like my childhood Christmas wish for a 3 speed, banana seat bike with the Easy Rider handlebars – it ain’t happening – then again, this is the season of hope.

We all know who the villains are in our lives – maybe it’s a so called friend, a mean co-worker or a rocky relationship with a relative. Just remember that in the spirit of the season and peace on Earth, we may have to smile, and at the very least give them a card. No one has to know that you secretly wish it contained a one-way ticket to Kissitstan.

If you’re going to have a house full of guests for the festive feast, get ready for hours of cooking, a huge mess and a huge bill with all the trimmings.

Christmas turkeys cost the same, no matter if you’re Scrooge McDuck or just a poor cluck like me. Let’s not forget the sweet potatoes, cranberries and pie. Then there are the liquid beverages from dad’s Old Granddad bourbon to junior’s juice boxes.

It all adds up, and if you happen to have a spare room, a comfy-couch or even a summer-floaty, you’ll be also cooking a big family breakfast.
Don’t forget you’ll have to gas up the tank and take them around town, show them the sights and feed those mooches lunch too.

The only thing that would makes things worse is if they had a terrible two year old brat, a big drooling dog and a bad habit of waking up a 5 am to watch TV.

The next test of your ho, ho, ho spirit is to organize everyone’s every move and movement right down to buying extra toilet paper.

As time ticks down to the big day, and every bow is neatly in its place – you’d think you could finally take a rest from your stress – you’d be wrong.

Answer me this why do people wake up so damned early on Christmas morning?

Well it’s not over yet, after the ribbons and bows get cleaned up, dinner gets started. Pots and pans begin to rattle, the bird gets stuffed and everyone is seated and ready to drudge up old family business.

After all the shopping, wrapping and decorating – the whole thing is over before you know it – and everyone is thinking the same thing: is that it?


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

Annual Downtown Eastside: Heart of the City Festival

The 14th annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival will take place during October 25 to Sunday November 5, 2017 in Vancouver. Over 100 events at over 50 locations throughout 12 days of music, stories, songs, poetry, cultural celebrations, films, theatre, dance, processions, spoken word, workshops, discussions, gallery exhibitions, mixed media, art talks, history talks and history walks.

The theme of the 2017 Festival, Honouring Women of the Downtown Eastside, pays tribute to women from all walks of life in the Downtown Eastside past and present.

A special feature this year is the premiere of MISSING a new chamber opera that gives voice to the story of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women. The libretto is by the distinguished First Nations playwright Marie Clements and the composer is Juno-award winner Brian Current. Produced by City Opera Vancouver and Pacific Opera Victoria in partnership with Vancouver Moving Theatre/DTES Heart of the City Festival, MISSING will open in the Downtown Eastside for a private invitational audience then continue for the public at the York Theatre starting on November 3.

Other Festival highlights include: Summoning (No Words), an interactive sound installation in response to global incidents of violence against women; performances of Crow’s Nest and Other Places She’s Gone, that tells the story of two friends who face life at the edge, weaving contemporary choreography and storytelling through an indigenous lens, featuring storyteller Rosemary Georges on (Coast Salish/Dene) and dance artists Olivia C. Davies (Welsh/Metis-Anishnawbe) and Emily Long; the fabulous voices of Dalannah Gail Bowen, Renae Morriseau, Helen Duguay and Sara Cadeau in Women in the Round; and the always popular evening of jazz at Carnegie Theatre with Jazz Confluence: Carnegie Jazz Band with Brad Muirhead Quartet & Four Special Female Jazz Musicians.

The mandate of the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival is to promote, present and facilitate the development of artists, art forms, cultural traditions, heritage, 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 2016 Festival.

Other highlights include Walking Tours. The Festival is pleased to present a new walking tour with Marcia Toms to shed light on the vital work of women in the home and the Chinatown and Strathcona neighbourhoods. Marcia draws stories of women from many different cultures and marginalized backgrounds who most often worked outside of the realm of organized labour. Born and raised in Vancouver, Marcia is a retired educator, advocate for public education and has a passion for local social history. To all interested, meet at Ovaltine Cafe, 251 E. Hastings on Sunday Oct 29, at 11am.

Also, Sneak Peek into Chinatown: Join hosts Judy Lam Maxwell and Steven Wong for a glimpse of Chinatown. Judy leads Historical Chinatown Tours and Steven is third generation ‘man about town’ in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Meet at Sai Woo, 158 E. Pender, on Saturday Nov 4, at 11am, and $10, pay what you can for local residents.

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


Like most of you, I have never really pondered my own self worth. It’s a subject, I feel, that would only appeal to the lonely, the vain or someone who is contemplating their mortality.

In the name of truth; I’ll admit that I’m a little from each column.

Speaking of columns, the reason that you haven’t seen my wit in type is because I leave every summer and travel from town to town painting windows for different events.

On my journeys I spend a lot of time behind the wheel chasing an endless horizon. Between the drum of the music and the hum of the tires a person can get hypnotized – it gives a person’s mind time to wonder into uncharted scenarios.

Take for instance you’ve crossed paths with a rude dude who snapped at you for no good reason. Not only did he ruin that moment, your mind takes the rest of the day to ponder that jerks fate.

Some of you might imagine his head bursting into flames, while others might feel sorry for that rude, inconsiderate ugly person. Some people might even go as far as to punch him on the nose, while others just wish they could do it – to me, the worst thing of all, is thinking of a great retort – too late, and after the fact.

During my long drives and hotel stays, I get lonely. Other than me the TV and the four walls, the only thing to break the ice is my imagination.

Now, this is where we may, or may not vary. The reason for that statement is because I’m an artist, and I’ve been told that we, artsy folks, think differently, and I believe it to be true.

A relentless imagination can be both a blessing and a curse. It can help me think outside the box, and it can also create beautiful art out of life’s blood, sweat and tears. The down side is that I can feel alone in a room full of normal people.

This is where my vanity comes creeping in and asking the question: what is my own self worth, and how do I measure it? Is my value determined by what others think of me or is it what I think of others?

Do we have ‘stations’ in life? And who in the name of heaven or hell gets to determine that?

Will a day come when people stand over my grave and wail we will miss you or will they spill a stream of used beer on my epitaph?

I warned you that I think out of the box – maybe I should write you a happy ending.

I’m a big believer in Karma, what goes around comes around and you are what you eat – just kidding about that last one, but you get my drift.

One day I was feeling sorry for myself, thinking that my business is down but my bills go up. I’m a reasonable person, I don’t harm man nor beast and I’m productive not destructive, yet there are times when I just feel like throwing in the towel and saying what’s the use?

Later that day I attended an event and was greeted with open arms by friends, acquaintances and even a few of my readers. They all smiled and said the same thing: “Where have you been?”

That felt like a million bucks of self worth.


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


A lot of businesses in the sunny Okanagan depend upon the flow of cash from the river of money that tourists bring to beautiful B.C. But this year because of the wild fires all those loonies dried up and blew away in a puff of smoke.

Even though the OK valley was okay as far as not having any major fires burning in our area – the media grabbed onto the story like a puppy goes for a slipper – and they wouldn’t let it go.

Day in and day out, the news blared that the province was on fire, with film on the hour every hour. To the media a story is like a dog with a bone. Even though there isn’t any meat left on it, they’ll still fight, scratch and bite at it until it’s all gone.

A lot of our tour-trade is with Americans, who are just looking for a friendly place to take a vacation, where being a Yank won’t get you scoffed at or shot at just because of your elected president.

But again, the media just added fuel to the BC fires. By simply turning on the boob tube, you’d think the entire province, from the 49th parallel to the Alaskan pan-handle was ablaze, an inferno or as one broadcaster said: “It’s hell on earth!”

All this chatter lead to Twitter and soon Instagram and Facebook joined in and spread the word faster than (ironically) a grass fire. It wasn’t long before ABC, NBC, CNN and CBC were highlighting BC. All of this electronic buzz, it made our province about as popular a vacation hot-spot as Syria.

I’ll admit that there were a lot of fires this year, but not everywhere was a blaze. Vancouver Island, the lower mainland and the Okanagan were open for business, but that didn’t make news.

While the world stayed away in droves, businesses here had to stay open. They’d already paid for their summer inventory, advertised and hired extra staff. I can only imagine it would be like holding an ice cream and watching it melt all over your hand.

As a writer I’d say that I have some sway on the way you may pay it forward today (try writing that four times fast).

This is what I’d like you to do: Facebook, Snapshot, Instagram and Twitter away the message: Va-Ka in your own back yard. Hashtag that my fellow Okanaganites.

We all know someone who works in the tourist industry or maybe even owns a small shop in valley. So instead of hopping on a jet plane, go to a downtown near you.

Have you ever seen a Sicamous sunset, ogled an Osoyoosite or loitered around Lumby?
Even better yet stay right here in Westbank. Pick a world famous Okanagan apple, drink in the view from a vineyard or maybe even a naughty night in a local hotel.

I have one more thing to suggest to my dear readers: if you see someone scoff at campfire bans or throw a cigarette out of a car window – rat the rat out!

At the same time you’re calling *5555 on your cell phone, to report the fire-bug, imagine all the pain and loss people endure because of someone’s ignorance.

Back in days of yore, before the invasion, we Natives would use fire to control fire, burning as the snows melted – simple.


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


If your home happens to be in the desert then may I suggest that you buy sunglasses, deodorant and a t-shirt that reads: Albino, free-zone.

Some people go on and on about this thing or that thing. There’s and old cowboy saying: “Some folks would bitch if they were hung with a used rope.”

I love this time of year, life slows down and it’s a good excuse to rest under the shade of an old tree. The shores come alive with children playing and couples holding hands as they stroll along the water’s edge. The smell of barbeques waft through the evening air as you sit on your porch with a tall cold one.

Damned, life is good in the Okanagan valley.

Summer is also a time for families to rekindle their ties. People pack up their cares and woes and drive so that they may share them with their relatives – sometimes for weeks on end.

Some kids visit their adoring grandparents while at the same time other grandparents are heading for the hills to avoid becoming summertime babysitters.

As the temperature rises everything begins to change, from the foods we eat to the clothes on our backs; or should I say the lack there of?

One old boy, Jack, who is 92 years old, once said to me: “The young girls begin to shed.”

I’m sure there is an old uptight, stuck up moral cop who might say that Jack is just a dirty old man. As for myself, Jack’s words give me hope, just knowing that when I reach the autumn of my life I’ll still appreciate beauty and forever be a boy of summer.

People from all across this great land have landed here for one reason or another, but the main reason is because of our cozy climate.

Back east it’s not only as hot as hell it’s as humid as a hairy armpit. The flat-landers (prairies) come here for the mountain’s majesty and stay for the mild winters. If you still have any doubts that you’re not in the land of milk and sunny – just ask any one of our many, many Albertans.

Every year my wife and I take a holiday, and for the last few years we’ve stayed close to home, and so did our money. Have you ever been to Nakusp? How about the Cariboo or the Kootenay area? Even closer to home you’ll find gold in Hedley, wine in Oliver and history at the O’Keefe ranch near Vernon.

So instead of sitting on your wallet and complaining about the weather – get off your assets and discover your own backyard. After all, a million Albertans can’t all be wrong.


Bernie Bates is a writer and an artist Email him at: beeinthebonnet@shaw.ca