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Indigenous Arts & Stories - Resonance


2016 - Art Winner

Nicole Paul

Prince Albert, SK
North Sask River Metis Nation
Age 24

Author's Statement

Traditions, beliefs, customs and language are all aspects of a person’s cultural identity, which also influences worldview. Without intergenerational learning our cultures can be lost and forgotten.

Aboriginal youth have become disconnected and have lost touch with their ancestral way of life. We must confront racial intolerance and constant discouragement from partaking and celebrating in cultural practices. There is an overwhelming pressure from society to assimilate into a modern Eurocentric way of life. The negative connotations associated with ceremonies and traditional practices are still residing in the attitude people have towards living an indigenous lifestyle. The Indian Act, ceremonies such as the Potlatch and Sundance were outlawed in an effort to assimilate Indigenous people into western society. This has made us secretive and overly protective of our cultural practices today.

It is imperative to deconstruct old perspectives and stereotypes on indigeneity and rebuild a positive aboriginal identity. We are at a turning point. The future of our culture is at risk and it is up to us to ensure its survival. The knowledge of our ancestors is being lost with the passing of our Elders. Intergenerational learning is imperative; ages of fluency in aboriginal languages are rising and young people are no longer partaking in cultural and spiritual practices. I believe this is something that must change.

Resonance is a painting installation representing the importance of intergenerational learning. I have worked with my father and Master Drummakers to learn drummaking and the ceremonial significance. The drums have all been handmade by my father and I, with images painted on the face. The images depicted show aspects of cultural importance, such as sweat lodges, buffalo hunts and sweet grass. I have intentionally left certain drums blank. This is done to bring awareness to the ceremonies, languages and customs that have all been lost due to the cultural genocide that aboriginal people have experienced as a result of Residential schools, disease and Indian Acts to list a few. This has inhibited intergenerational learning and passing of knowledge to future generations.

It is up to us to preserve traditional knowledge. With this piece I hope to empower and inspire youth to reconnect and revitalize in their own heritage by promoting a sense of pride and cultural resilience. What we learn from our Elders is more than just knowledge, but an enrichment of our worldview and society as a whole.