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New MMIWG art project focuses on untold stories of national inquiry –



Margaret Bird clings to the last words her mom Happy Charles spoke to her before she disappeared.

Those words — “I’ll try every day” — sent the 24-year-old from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in northern Saskatchewan on a quest to find a way to honour her mother. She was last seen alive at the age of 42 on April 3, 2017, approximately 240 kilometres south of her home in Prince Albert, Sask.

Her story is just one of thousands involving missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

A national inquiry, launched in 2015 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, concluded in 2019 that the disappearances and killings amounted to race-based genocide and issued 231 recommendations.

Although the inquiry heard from 2,380 family members, survivors of violence and experts, many of those who lost loved ones say they did not get a chance to share their stories during the inquiry process.

Now, a new project — supported by a $13 million commemoration fund established by Ottawa after the inquiry ended — is trying to shine a light on those untold stories through art.

Margaret Bird (second left) sings with her sisters in front of a missing persons sign for her mother, Happy Charles. (Margaret Bird/Supplied)

Pima’tisowin e’ mimtotaman, an Indigenous-led initiative meaning We Dance For Life, launched an interactive educational website today to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls through what it calls art-based healing and a national awareness campaign.

Artwork to tour across the country

Organizers are connecting about 180 family members from Ontario, Quebec and Western Canada with artists who will work collaboratively with the families on creating pieces of commemorative art.

Bird, who did not get a chance to personally testify at the inquiry, said the project is giving her a chance to channel her mother’s last words into action.

“This initiative is important to me because my mom was an artist,” Bird said. “It represents her views on moving past hardship with kindness and forgiveness.”

A woman is embraced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Gatineau, Que., on June 3, 2019 during ceremonies marking the national inquiry’s release of its final report. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Assuming COVID-19 restrictions permit it, organizers plan to bring families together for gatherings this summer to work on their art and take part in ceremonies. The artwork will then be toured across the country.

If public health measures do not allow for in-person meetings, organizers say they will try to arrange smaller or virtual gatherings.

“It gives them a sense they’re not alone,” said Sarah Cleary, a Quebec artist from Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation who will be working with the families.

“We want to make them feel we are praying for them. We are there for them. It’s really about opening up our hearts.”

Still no timeline on Ottawa’s response to national inquiry

We Dance For Life received $572,265 from the federal government for the campaign. It’s one of more than 100 projects that are being created through the federal government’s commemoration fund for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“They have long-lasting legacies — whether it’s a piece of art that we’ll walk by for the rest of our lives, a new group bringing new practices into place, a new way of gathering, a new way of seeing things and being together,” said Joanna Baker, director general of women’s programs at Women and Gender Equality Canada, which is leading the fund.

Women and Gender Equality Canada is developing a national action plan to combat gender-based violence which will include Indigenous-led solutions, said press secretary Marie-Pier Baril. It is also working with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to finish a national action plan to respond to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Watch: Indigenous Services minister says MMIWG national action plan can be ready in ‘relatively short order’

Marc Miller spoke with the CBC’s Oliva Stefanovich during a regular pandemic briefing 1:45

It’s not clear when those plans will be ready. 

During a press conference in Ottawa today, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller did not say when government’s response to the national inquiry will be released.

“I’m confident that we can get something out in relatively short order, but I can’t commit to a timeline,” Miller said.

Connecting families during isolation

Katelyn Nani Bell, an Ontario multidisciplinary artist in Wiikwemkoong First Nation, said We Dance For Life is connecting families at a time when many feel isolated because of the pandemic.

“It brings that sense of visiting with one another and connecting,” Bell said.

“It’s about time these women and girls are heard, and also the families to have that healing, if they haven’t had it yet.”

Bird said she misses performing with her three sisters in their drum group, New Dawn. She said We Dance For Life is giving her a new sense of meaning.

“It gives me a sense of hope and a bigger connection.”

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Art Beat: 2021 writers' festival looking up – Coast Reporter



The cancellation of the 2020 Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts (SCFWA) left a big cultural gap in a year full of them, and this year is still littered with question marks about local arts and entertainment. But word is that the festival looks more likely to happen than not, depending. (That d-word seems mandatory in 2021.) “The ground we walk upon is not quite settled as we await vaccines and keep an eye on the COVID-19 variants,” festival producer Jane Davidson wrote in the SCFWA February newsletter. “Our plan for the summer of 2021 is based on our ability to gather in groups of up to 50. We are hopeful that restrictions will relax enough to allow us to do at least that and we hope they relax even more to allow us to increase that number,” Davidson said. “Compliance with public health guidelines and safety will lead our way forward.”

The extra good news is that festival events would not be confined to a weekend in August. “Our plan is to produce a summertime Sunday afternoon series of readings from July 4 to August 8. On Festival weekend, we will have 7 p.m. events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (August 13, 14, and 15) and 2 p.m. events on the Saturday and Sunday. That’s 11 events in total with capacity for an audience of 42-44,” the newsletter said. Also, “[e]very event will be recorded by a professional videographer and the entire series (July 4 to Aug. 15) will be posted online as a virtual Festival for the last two weeks of August.” Fingers crossed. Davidson provides several more details about the current 2021 plans at

Shout Out

It soon will be time again for the annual youth arts show at Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG). The show, Shout Out! 2021, is open to all Sunshine Coast residents age two to 18. “Participating youth may submit up to two pieces of artwork in any medium (drawings, painting, prints, mixed media, photography, animation, video, sculpture, etc.),” gallery manager Christina Symons said in a release. Submission forms and artwork may be dropped off at the gallery at 431 Marine Drive in Gibsons starting March 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The deadline is 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 7. More information and submission forms can be found at The show runs from March 11 to April 4.

Space is limited in Art Beat but please let us know about your events at

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Focus – Looking back at the Arab Spring: The role of art and music – FRANCE 24



Issued on: 25/02/2021 – 16:23Modified: 25/02/2021 – 16:29

Ten years ago, the winds of change swept across several Arab nations, from Tunisia to Yemen via Egypt. The desire for political change was also expressed through art and music, which became vehicles for political ideas and the hopes and dreams of millions. Anmar Hijazi and Wassim Cornet look back at some of the highlights from the arts and culture world during the Arab Spring.


Programme prepared by Rebecca Martin and Wassim Cornet.

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Oil heiress’s $150-million art collection could ease a market crunch – Financial Post



Thanks to trepidation over online-only transactions, top-tier artworks are in short supply at auction

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This spring, Sotheby’s New York will auction off about US$150-million worth of art and jewels from the estate of the late oil heiress Anne Marion, who died last year.

Consisting of multiple blue-chip artworks that remained in Marion’s collection for decades, the sale comes at a time when, thanks to trepidation over online-only transactions, top-tier artworks are in short supply at auction.

Marion, who inherited a Texas oil fortune built on a Texas ranching fortune, was president of Burnett Oil Company, Burnett Ranches, and the Burnett Foundation in Fort Worth, Texas.

A major philanthropist, she founded the private Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe in 1997 with US$10 million in seed money. She also spearheaded the US$65 million expansion of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and served for a period of time as a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Through her charitable donations, Marion gave away more than US$600 million.

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Lifelong collector

All the while, Marion was acquiring art for herself.

“She was a lifelong, passionate collector,” says Michael Macaulay, a senior vice president and senior international specialist for contemporary art at Sotheby’s. The works coming to auction, he continues, “were mostly acquired in the 1980s and some in the 1990s.”

Roughly 200 lots from Marion’s collection will be included multiple sales, Macaulay says. Eighteen of the top artworks will be featured in a standalone evening sale; the rest, including a standalone jewelry sale featuring a pair of emerald and diamond ear clips that carry a US$150,000 high estimate, will be spread across 2021.

Marion is survived by her husband John Marion, the former chairman and chief auctioneer of Sotheby’s North America, whom she married in 1988.

Top lots

The top lot of the entire sale is a work by the Abstract Expressionist painter Clyfford Still, PH-125 (1948-No. 1)  from 1948. Estimated between US$25 million and US$35 million, the work is a rare instance of the artist’s output coming to market: Approximately 95 per cent of everything he ever created resides in the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.

There’s also a Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park No. 40 from 1971, estimated between US$20 million and US$30 million, which Macaulay says Marion acquired in the early 1980s.

An abstract painting by Gerhard Richter from 1992 “is a bit of an outlier,” Macaulay says, insofar as Marion purchased in 2012 at Sotheby’s fairly late in her life. “It’s representative of her lifelong passion for collecting,” he says, “in that she never stopped.”

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Marion bought the work for US$16.9 million; currently, it’s estimated between US$14 million and US$18 million, an estimate that reflects a softening of Richter’s market.

Similarly, Sotheby’s will be selling a Warhol Double Elvis from 1963, which carries an estimate of US$20 million to US$30 million. The Warhol market has been depressed for more than half a decade, Macaulay acknowledges, but cautions against reading into overall numbers too much.

“Yes, there’s been an absence of many big prices [for Warhol] for a number of years,” he says. “But that’s not exclusively representative of demand, it’s also ‘Well, where is the supply for outstanding, top-tier early 1960s icons of pop art?’ And it’s pretty thin.”

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