Artist Statement for “We Are All Treaty People” Commissioned Piece
The young Knowledge Keeper (Knowledge Keepers are recognized for the specific gifts, talents, and knowledge they possess and can be any age) wears an orange shirt representing the “Every Child Matters” Campaign. Grandmother moon provides steadiness and light during dark times. The Knowledge Keeper’s hair represents strength, resilience and our collective struggle mending our collective past. Many Nations cut their hair when there is a death in the immediate family as an outward symbol of the deep sadness and a physical reminder of the loss. The cut hair represents the time with their loved one, which is over and gone, and the new growth is the life after. The Knowledge Keeper is strong, stoic, resilient but her expression holds the sadness of 7 generations of ancestors.
The feathers in her hair are tied to the Treaty 4 flag acknowledging we are on Treaty 4 land, and we are all Treaty people working together to bring light to our future.
The large medicine wheel connects the 2 panels and represents healing and a balance between mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical healing.
Woven into the Knowledge Keeper’s hair are people wearing masks representing the 2021 year of the Covid 19 Pandemic. Resilience, strength, and community were the characteristics that helped us all deal with this unprecedented time in our lives.
The night sky has turned into the daylight sky which represents hope and a new light as the pandemic starts to come to an end. No matter what the dark night brings, dawn always brings new light.
A raven is perched on a sand-timer. The raven symbolizes transformation, knowledge, complexity of nature and subtlety of truth. Ravens also symbolize the unknown and shows that every person sees the world in a different way. The Metis figure 8 symbol (In Metis sash colours) is emblazoned on the sand-timer representing our history and time passing. I feel that this symbol is relevant for 2021 (knowledge gained), as well as transformation and the complexity of what we all have all been through struggling and dealing with the pandemic.
The bear embracing the Indigenous girl wearing a red dress represents the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). Bears are known as the healers in many Indigenous nations. The bear also represents courage and strength — the bear’s courage and strength mirrors the courage and strength of the families, friends and communities of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The number 94 is woven into her hair to represent the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.
The overall message of this artwork can be summed up in three words:
Strength Struggle Resilience