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Student art banners hung on Hwy 16 – Smithers Interior News



“What the Elders Told Us” is the theme for an amazing art exhibition that will be easily seen throughout Smithers and Witset. It seems like the perfect time to show love and respect to the Wet’suwet’en people on whose territories we reside by hanging brilliant and creative works of art on lamp posts along Highway 16 and surrounding the Multi Plex in Witset. These works of art are related to the stories that Elders shared with students over the past year.

There are many aspects of this project that go beyond the purpose of gorgeous youth art banners. In part, this project was to honour the Elders and the wisdom they share with the ancient stories they carry. The project was to bring together Indigenous and non-indigenous students in order to share the experience of listening to Elders tell stories that have been shared for generations.

As well, for non-indigenous students to come to Witset and visit in the community.

Last, but not least, for students and teachers from each community to connect and express their creative selves though the shared experience of art.

Last spring, plans got underway to create a profound and colourful art/reconciliation project. Linda Stringfellow who works for Kyah Wiget Education Society created and presented a power point called “What the Elders Told Us” to the Witset Language Authority, the Town of Smithers and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en asking permission and direction on protocol regarding the idea of students from both Witset and Smithers, participating in listening to Elder’s stories and depicting those stories on banners, that would hang from lamp posts in both Witset and Smithers.

In following direction from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en a smoke feast hosted by Kyah Wiget Education Society was held in the small feast hall in Witset during which Elders were hired to tell stories. In November, a second feast was held in order to let the community know who was hired. This feast is called a Settlement Feast.

At the end of November, the first story telling session was attended by the Witset Elementary Grade 6/7 class and the Heartwood School, blended education program.

Our first Elder story teller was K’iliset (Vi Gellenback). She shared a beautiful story of the salmon in the canyon with a moral teaching about bullying.

A few days later both groups of students started painting their banners in the Centennial Hall illustrating the theme.

At the end of November, a second session of story telling happened with Witset ICount students and students from Bulkley Valley Christian School. They listened to stories from Smogelgem (Warner Naziel). Warner had the group engaged with his gifted story telling and Likhdilye (Russel Tiljoe) was able to attend an event that was held in the evening where he spoke a great deal about culture and the importance of the Wet’ suwet’en feast hall system.

Lastly, the Adult Ed programs in Witset and the Smithers Secondary Art students listened to Elder stories in January told by Hagwilnegh (Ron Mitchell) and Timberwolf (Mable Forsythe). Both Elders shared interesting personal stories and again students were glued to the sharing of history. In the end, we have 60-plus original works of art from students age five and up to display in our communities.

Many people made this project a reality. Aaron Burgess, the Executive Director of Kayh Wiget Education Society, The Witset Language Authority, The Office of the Wit’suwit’en, the Bridging Committee and the Town of Smithers. Teachers, Jonathan Boon, Perry Rath, Helene Flurry, Kathleen Morin, Derek Wilmot, Mark West, Hildegarde Scholtzl, Christine Jang, all the Kyah Wiget staff who helped with the feasts. Elder Betty Tait, Bernice Morris and Sheri Green for their Cultural guidance. Band Manager Lucy Gagnon for her support. To the student artists who showed respect and interest in this project; this couldn’t have happened without you. Many thanks and much gratitude to the Elders who attended the feast and participated with the story telling: Kloum Khum Alphonse Gagnon, K’ilset Vi Gellenback, Likhdilye Russel Tiljoe, Timberwolf Mable Forsythe, Lth’at’en Doris Rosso, Knadebeas Warner Williams, Misalos Helen Nikal, Hagwilnegh Ron Mitchell and Smogelgen Warner Naziel.

Please keep your eyes open and look up for these banners as they are hung this year, as a gift to celebrate Aboriginal Day 2020


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One of the art banners painted Indigenous and non-indigenous students based on Wet’suwet’en Elders stories. (Contributed photo)

One of the art banners painted Indigenous and non-indigenous students based on Wet’suwet’en Elders stories. (Contributed photo)

Indigenous and non-indigenous students paint banners based on Wet’suwet’en Elders stories. (Contributed photo)

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'Stealable Art' exhibit in Tokyo invites theft – CTV News



The Tokyo art exhibit opened to enthusiastic visitors, but many of those circulating weren’t just there to soak in some culture — they were casing the joint for a midnight raid.

Hours after the gallery closed for the night, a crowd had gathered ready to pounce on the artworks. The police station was nearby, but officers only intervened for crowd control, because all the pieces at the Stealable Art Exhibition were up for grabs.

The event was intended as “an experiment”, to alter the relationship between artists and visitors, organiser Tota Hasegawa told AFP.

It was originally conceived as a low-key event that might attract some covert thievery, but word spread so fast on social media that a crowd of nearly 200 people packed the streets near the gallery hoping for a chance to grab a prize.

Would-be robbers were told they could raid the gallery from midnight, but the crowd was so big that the theft started half an hour earlier, and the exhibition that had been billed as running for up to 10 days was emptied of art in less than 10 minutes.

Yusuke Hasada, 26, was a rare winner, gripping a crumpled 10,000 yen ($93) banknote in a frame, which was part of the “My Money” installation by Gabin Ito. 

He arrived an hour before midnight only to see a crowd had already formed.

Since there was no apparent queue, he manoeuvered himself into a spot right in front of the gallery.

“The moment the staff said they should open early due to the big crowd, people rushed in from behind me. I was in the front, and I almost fell over,” he told AFP.

“It was scary.” 


Hasada said he plans to hang the work, among those on display supplied by 10 contemporary artists, in his home.

But not everyone stealing the items appeared to have the same idea, with several artworks appearing on online auction sites within hours with price tags as high as 100,000 yen. 

Even after the exhibit was emptied out, would-be thieves continued arriving, forcing a nearby police station to dispatch officers for crowd control.

“You are blocking traffic!” officers shouted.

Yuka Yamauchi, a 35-year-old systems engineer, showed up 15 minutes before midnight but was too late.

“I entered with my husband and it was just packed with so many people… We saw larger artworks taken out by those who came earlier,” she said.

“I haven’t seen so many people in a long time as we have been refraining from going out due to the coronavirus.”

But Yamauchi didn’t leave completely empty-handed.

“I’ve got a clip… It must have been one of those used for the cloth installation. I found it dropped, so I picked it up as a souvenir,” she said with a laugh.


Yamauchi recognised the clip because she was at a preview of the artwork six hours earlier to “case” the venue.

She said she would happily come back for a similar “participatory” art event, where some of the artists showcased work that was purpose-made for those hoping to make off with it.

Naoki “SAND” Yamamoto’s work “Midnight Vandalist” was composed of a stack of peelable pages with printed illustrations.

Another work was a large cloth printed with lines to be cut along with scissors.

But would-be thieves were responsible for organising their own getaway vehicles. A notice was posted at the entrance: “We do not assist art thieves with packing or transporting artworks, so you are responsible for everything.”

Organiser Hasegawa told AFP he later met with police — perhaps not used to such large-scale larceny in Japan, with its ultra-low crime rate — to clear up any misunderstandings about the event and the crowd it attracted.

He said the budding thieves had proved to be “well-mannered.”

They might have been there to stage robberies, but when “someone lost a bag with a wallet in it, it was passed onto a staffer and safely returned to the owner.”

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Métis artists launch summer public art series – paNOW



On Friday afternoon, a small crowd gathered to watch the pair create a large chalk mural in front of the Mann Art Gallery.

“It’s a way for us to have a conversation about the Métis culture,” Dorion told paNOW. “Between ourselves, but also with the community.”

In the coming weeks, the duo plans to unveil a new installation every Friday. Over the course of the summer, the public can expect to see a herd of buffalo on the riverbank, a live Giving Tree at Kinsmen Park, and a willow labyrinth near the Field House.

Dorion explained they carefully considered the pandemic in their planning. That meant making considerations for safety, but also simply recognizing the public’s particular need for uplifting messages and accessible art at this moment.

“We wanted to share something very positive and public and outdoors,” said Dorion. “So people could be out in the fresh air, in the sunshine and the elements, and be able to easily social distance.”

The Intergenerational Métis Artist Mentorship Program builds off Dorion’s previous work with the Mann Art Gallery where she’s facilitated various community workshops. Castle is the gallery’s Art Educator.

Dorion sees the program as an important opportunity to transfer knowledge to a fellow Métis artist and art educator.

Castle is similarly enthusiastic about the project.

“I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and experience,” she said. I’m just really excited to get out there and make some art.”

The interactive element will be an important part of all five installations, and Castle said they hope to further continue the conversation online through the Mann Art Gallery’s social media channels.

“We still really wanted to connect with the community,” she said. “But because of COVID, we can’t physically do the art with groups of people. So, at least this is a way we can engage.”

The Intergenerational Métis Artist Mentorship Project is funded by the Aboriginal Arts and Culture Leadership grant from Saskculture and the Community Initiatives Fund.

On Twitter: @alisandstrom

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'Gerryfest' to celebrate Gerry Atwell's music and art, but also his advocacy against systemic racism –



A festival celebrating the life of the late Gerry Atwell is taking place in Winnipeg next month — but the night will be about more than just music and art.

Atwell, a Juno Award-winning musician known for playing the keyboard for the Winnipeg band Eagle and Hawk, died after suffering a heart attack in late November 2019.

Family and friends knew they would celebrate his life with a music festival this summer. But with people in North America demanding change once again, a key part of the daylong festival will be focused toward the fight against systemic racism — a cause Atwell long advocated for.

“We’re all missing his humanity when it comes to these types of issues,” said Judy Williams, Atwell’s sister.

“He always had a different message for the different audiences he might have been speaking with,” she said, and were he alive now, he would say “something profound, but something that would be inclusive, whether he was going to encourage someone to take some action, or think of other people.”

Atwell also would see the positive opportunities that will come through the conversations being had, added Louise May, executive director of the St. Norbert Arts Centre, where she worked with Atwell for about 25 years.

“Even though it’s coming from such negativity and such a negative event, there is so much hope through it, and so much burgeoning awareness, and ability to talk about it and ability for people to confront themselves with it,” said May.

On Black History Month, musician Joe Curtis celebrates the memory of Gerry Atwell and his mother Frances, who was one of the first black pharmacists in Manitoba. 2:25

“It’s a very, very hopeful time and I know Gerry would be pushing us to see that hope and to really manifest it.”

Gerryfest will take place on Aug. 14 — Atwell’s birthday — at the St. Norbert Arts Centre. Both Williams and May said they felt his presence during the process of organizing the event.

“Even the term ‘Gerryfest’ was Gerry’s idea,” said May. “It was something that we talked about many times, kind of in a joking way. But I knew he always wanted to really do it, which was to have a day when all of his bands played back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

“To which I always said, ‘Gerry, what, you’re going to play for seven, eight hours in one row?'” she said. “That was going to be the very best day that he could imagine for himself.”

Although Atwell won’t be there in person, his presence will be there through former bandmates and other lives he touched, May said.

The planning of Gerryfest started before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Manitoba. So the original plan of a weekend festival has been whittled down to an afternoon and evening of music and art dedicated to Atwell.

If he were still alive today, Atwell’s sister says he would be joining the fight against systemic racism, using words that are profound but also inclusive. (Submitted by Carla Williams)

“I really think we can just keep his work alive and keep building on it year after year with this,” said May, adding that this will be the first of an annual festival.

The festival will also raise funds for the Gerry Atwell Memorial Mentorship Fund, an endowment fund that will have musicians and artists mentoring young people, just like Atwell once did, said Williams.

An invitation is needed to attend the event at the St. Norbert Arts Centre, but people can tune in through livestreams online, said May.

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