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Indigenous art show explores role of kinship in culture while works convey pain, hope, beauty –



In Unmarked, a painting now showing at a Toronto art gallery, a young Indigenous girl holds a human skull in her hands and stares at the viewer, her eyes full of sadness.

D. Ahsén:nase Douglas, a Kanien’kehá:ka painter with roots in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory, created the artwork in January 2020, more than a year before the discovery of unmarked graves of children at Indian residential schools in Canada.

For Douglas, who considers himself a figurative painter, Unmarked depicts the loss of culture, language and children that occurred because of the Canadian residential school system. He said residential schools took away and “destroyed” the next generation of Indigenous people.

The painting is especially relevant now, he added.

“Most of my relatives have gone to residential school. I carry a lot of their stories, especially my auntie. It’s part of what I know as an Indigenous person,” Douglas said.

“I wanted to express essentially a feeling of loss, but also a feeling of sadness that I felt for the loss of the children as well as our culture and our language,” he added.

“The thing that a lot of people in Canada don’t realize is we’ve always known that children were missing. We’ve always understood. Even during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a lot of our elders weren’t believed. It wasn’t something that they felt was important enough to investigate. It’s something that we already knew.”

Unmarked is one of 29 artworks by 12 Indigenous artists that make up the Wisdom of Kinship exhibition at Toronto’s Leslie Grove Gallery, which is run by the Artists’ Network, a group of independent Canadian artists. The exhibition, which opened last Thursday, runs until Aug. 22. Douglas has seven paintings in the show. The works explore the role of kinship and community within Indigenous culture. 

“All of these paintings in one way or another relate to relationships,” Douglas said.

“Relationships are very important for Indigenous people. It’s probably the most important thing. Wisdom of Kinship is an expression of those relationships.”

This photograph by Lisa MacIntosh, Water First, is one of 29 artworks by 12 Indigenous artists at a new exhibition at a Toronto art gallery. It features Lucy Paibomsai from Whitefish River First Nation. (Lisa MacIntosh)

Lisa MacIntosh, a photographer based in Brant County and whose family is Abenaki First Nation, has the only photograph in the exhibition. It’s called Water First and it features Lucy Paibomsai from Whitefish River First Nation.

“There is power here; community, connectedness, truth, injustice.  There is a story here, it’s message is raw and shameful. The lack of clean, safe drinking water in First Nations is one of the greatest violations of human rights to water and sanitation,” MacIntosh said in an email. 

“When you look at this image, I hope you ask questions. I hope you recognize the power of our youth. I hope you see injustice. I hope it makes you feel uncomfortable. I hope you are inspired to demand change.”

‘We have to make allies,’ curator of show says

Diane Montreuil, a Métis artist and educator, curated the show. Montreuil and Nathalie Bertin, a Métis multidisciplinary artist, juried the show together. It is the first Indigenous art show to be organized and financially supported by the Artists’ Network.

“We have to make allies, and plant a seed of relationships, nourish it, and this will lead to reconciliation,” Montreuil said in a news release.

The show comes as other Indigenous artists are unveiling new works in Toronto and across Ontario. Last weekend, for example, some Indigenous artists unveiled a series of murals in a laneway in downtown Toronto.

The artists said the discovery of burial sites at Indian residential schools has put a new spotlight on their history and culture. Douglas agreed.

“We’re in the process of making history. It’s almost as though all paths are coming to a single point,” he said.

Douglas also teaches part-time on a freelance basis.

“I tell my students, artwork is an expression of who we are, our personal histories, our experiences and our culture. All of my paintings will express these elements to a certain degree.”

A description of this painting reads: ‘Resilience depicts the continuing and seemingly endless supply of courage, strength and will power that our Indigenous youth are able to muster in the wake of continued social injustice. It is a battle cry of sorts in which the young will be tasked with continuing the fight for equity and sovereignty of culture within colonial Turtle Island.’ (D. Ahsén:nase Douglas )

Another painting by Douglas in the show is Resilience. The painting is of a young boy, with his fist in the air. A crowd of people behind him represent those who have passed. The boy, despite the loss behind him, still has the strength to stand and resist.

Douglas said Indigenous children are always described as being “resilient,” but he finds that adjective strange because it’s a trait used to survive.

“If it was a non-Indigenous child, you wouldn’t use the word ‘resilient’ to describe them. You could call them smart, or beautiful, or intelligent, or athletic. You would use these other terms,” he said.

“In a lot of cases, people will describe Indigenous children as resilient. It’s a good thing, but it’s something that our children have had to learn to be in order to survive. I felt there was something not right there. It was something that was forced upon them because of residential schools, reserves, the poverty that they live in,” he said. 

A description of the painting reads: “Resilience depicts the continuing and seemingly endless supply of courage, strength and will power that our Indigenous youth are able to muster in the wake of continued social injustice. It is a battle cry of sorts in which the young will be tasked with continuing the fight for equity and sovereignty of culture within colonial Turtle Island.”

Douglas has a solo show at the Orillia Museum of Art and History in November that runs until April. He says his work, although it explores Indigenous themes, does not follow the characteristics of what is typically considered “Indigenous Art” in North America.

The Artists’ Network will donate proceeds from the show to the Save the Evidence Campaign at Woodlands Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ont. The campaign aims to turn the former Mohawk Institute Residential School into an interpretive historic site and educational resource to ensure what happened there will never be forgotten.

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Art Beat: Prize-winning author pays Coast a virtual visit – Coast Reporter



The Sunshine Coast Arts Council’s Reading Series presents author Gil Adamson on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. Adamson will read from her recent novel, Ridgerunner, a finalist for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and winner of the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Set in the Canadian and U.S. West in 1917, the book is a sequel to Adamson’s well-received first novel, Outlander. Publisher House of Anansi described Ridgerunner as “a vivid historical novel that draws from the epic tradition… a literary Western brimming with a cast of unforgettable characters touched with humour and loss, and steeped in the wild of the natural world.” The reading is a Zoom event and it’s free. Register in advance through

A Beautiful Mess

FibreWorks Studio & Gallery in Madeira Park is holding an opening reception on Saturday, Sept. 18 for its new exhibition, A Beautiful Mess: the joyful & random discovery of the artistic process. Creating something real out of the imagination can be a dishevelled and uncertain undertaking, usually carried out in private. Here, FibreWorks is turning that inside-out. “This show aims to create a sense of intimacy between the artist and the public.” The reception runs from 2 to 4 p.m. The show will run until Oct.31.

Live Music

The Roberts Creek Legion has helped keep live music going on the Sunshine Coast through the warmer days over the past 18 months, thanks to its outdoor stage. Those setups have kept patrons in the fresh air and safely separated. Now the club is moving its visiting bands back to its indoor stage – and visitors onto its new dance floor – with a “Grande Re-Opening” on Friday, Sept. 17, featuring the Ween tribute band, Captain Fantasy. Doors at 7 p.m. The legion follows on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 7 to 11 p.m. with a string of acts, including The Locals, Eddy Edrick, Michelle Morand, and an open-stage jam. Proof of vaccination will be required for admission to all shows.

The Locals also play the outdoor venue at Tapworks in Gibsons on Saturday, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. That might depend on the weather, as (at press time) heavy rain was forecast for Saturday.

The Clubhouse Restaurant in Pender Harbour presents Karl Kirkaldy on Friday, Sept. 17, from 5 to 8 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 19, Half Cut and The Slackers rock the Clubhouse from 2 to 5 p.m.

Joe Stanton is scheduled to entertain on Saturday, Sept. 18 on the patio at the Backeddy Resort and Marina in Egmont. Again, that’s weather-dependent.

Let us know about your event by email at

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Reconciliation through Indigenous art is the theme at a Calgary mall – CTV News Calgary




The exhibit features work from 17 Indigenous artists and is located in Southcentre Mall’s Art Corner on the second floor.

Tapisa Kilabuk is one of the event organizers with the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good that’s collaborating with Colouring it Forward Reconciliation Society for the six week long exhibit.

“Just having this kind of representation in Calgary is just so wonderful and so beautiful and so inclusive,” said Kilabuk. “When I was here the other day helping with the orange shirts and I was overwhelmed with emotion because I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

The federal government recently declared September 30th as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It’s a day for Canadians to spread awareness and reflect on the tragedies experienced by Indigenous people as a result of the country’s former residential school system.

Alexandra Velosa is the marketing manager at Southcentre Mall which is a big supporter of the arts community. The artwork for the exhibit is hung from the ceiling and on the back of each piece are recommendations about how everyone can take steps to help foster reconciliation.

“We all want to make a difference,” said Velosa. “We just sometimes don’t know how and this is what the art exhibit is giving us, it’s giving us the information we need to take little actions to be part of the reconciliation.”

The space has been open to the public since the start of September. Close to 11,000 people visit it daily.

“A big part of our role with Colour it Forward Reconciliation Society is reconciliation through the arts,” said Kilabuk. “That gives people the space to come together, to learn more, to appreciate one another, to admire one another and really create those fundamental relationships in our community that will create a better community in the future.”


Keevin Rider is one of the artists taking part in the exhibit. His piece is titled White Buffalo Moon. A buffalo on the left side of the painting represents the people, seven empty lodges represent death, loneliness, sorrow, mourning, grief, hurt, depression. A white buffalo on the right represents healing and looks towards the buffalo on the left letting him know that he is there to help heal the people.

Rider says he’s a product of his parents attending residential schools.

“My dad was Stoney Nakoda, my mom was Blackfoot, Blood,” said Rider. “They can speak their language fluently but they thought it would be better for us not to because of what residential (schools) taught them: it taught them not to speak their language, don’t use your culture.”

Now Rider is starting to learn his native languages at 57 years old. He says painting puts him in a good space and helps him heal. He’s proud to be included in the exhibit and is hopeful that visitors will learn from the stories of the art and appreciate the work of the Indigenous artists featured.

The mall is still finalizing details of how it will host the first observance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th to follow provincial health measures. The exhibit will be open until mid-October.

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Art show in Minto – Wellington Advertiser



HARRISTON – The Minto Arts Council is hosting its first show of the year at the Minto Art Gallery. Showcasing the Saugeen Artist Guild, the show is entitled Reflections from the Saugeen Artists Guild.

This show features multiple works from over 20 artists and includes a variety of styles and mediums, including oil paintings, watercolours, stained glass, mixed media, encaustic, jewelry, photography and works with polymer clay.

“This is truly a very diverse show and we are so proud to be able to bring this to our community,” gallery officials state.

The show officially opened Sept. 9 and runs until Oct. 2.

The gallery, located at 88 Mill Street on the third floor of the Harriston branch of the Wellington County Library, is open:

– Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8pm;

– Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 4pm; and

– Saturdays, 11am to 1pm.

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