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Indigenous Arts & Stories - Winter in America

Winter in America

2014 - Art Winner

Eva Grant

Victoria, BC
Cayoose Creek St'at'imc
Age 16

Author's Statement

In my piece I have chosen to elaborate upon concepts of “Home” explored in conjunction with the issue of homelessness and cultural disconnect among aboriginals in Canada.

I am part St’at’imc, and grew up on reserve in the small town of Lillooet, BC. Being a person from mixed descent I always have felt torn between two worlds. Now that I reside in Victoria, BC, I have had to strike a balance between finding solidarity in my traditional heritage and maturing as a young woman in the city.

My composition speaks to the idea of these new generations of aboriginal youth to return to the ancient teachings and ways of being while trying to move forward and, to put it colloquially, “make it” in a changing, globalized world.

I chose to mix elements of street art and the woodland colours and lines to give it a fragmented look. Within the painting, strong color contrasts glazing and numerous dripping effects to enable different interpretations of the image.

In the black paint I see the blight of assimilation that my foremothers and forefathers faced in residential schools and elsewhere. In the white-wash I see inherent racism and racial domination. I see an archaic revival in traditional art and a sense of cultural disconnect in my central image. If we no longer even feel at home in Canada, then homelessness has truly become a way of life. This piece depicts the intersection at the crossroads of past and future. The bricks represent both the cornerstones of contemporary aboriginal life and the walls we must overcome. The colourful backdrop and the ambivalent statements are contrasted in stark black and white. The transferred pictures left and right represent the urbanization of Native American culture, both its advantages and disadvantages.

It’s no freak occurrence only 41% of aboriginal students in BC graduate, or that aboriginal peoples run some of the highest risks for incarceration, addiction, and suicide. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children are Canada’s fastest growing demographic, and they still feel the cultural repercussions of colonization.

In sum, I hope my composition encourages new dialogues about old ideas in contemporary aboriginal life. Because, with a social issue like homelessness, it is much more than houses we need to provide; we need a sense of belonging. We need a home.