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Indigenous Arts & Stories - Kesalul


2019 - Art Winner

Buffy Googoo

Cow Bay, NS
We'koqma'q First Nation
Age 21

Author's Statement

My art piece is title “Kesalul”. It is an oil painting on an 18 X 24 canvas. My fathers passing was my first real experience of death and how our culture gathers together in the last days for the dying to help them to move on to the spirit world. My dad was a strong man who did not want to die. Just the week before he had told me again like many times before that he was going to beat the cancer. Even though he still did not accept death, he eventually asked for us to stay with him and that he did not want to be alone in the end. This painting is of my dad and sister, who stayed with dad right until the very end. She and I stayed by his side for 6 days, day and night.
I created this painting called “Kesalul”, which translates to I love you in Mi’kmaq. The reason I named it Kesalul is because my father who is in the painting along with my sister had a hard time saying I love you. He was a very strong Mi’kmaq speaker. I would always tell him “Dad, I love you”. He would hesitate and brush it off. I do not speak the language myself but I finally started saying “Kesalul”, which eventually he started saying it back to me slowly. It meant a lot to me to paint this because I want to create something, I was proud of and that he would have been proud of. I took many pictures of my father’s inevitable journey to the spirit world with each of my sisters without them being aware of it. Mostly for my memories and I challenged myself to paint it. There is a time when I stopped painting but this photo inspired me to paint. I asked my sister Shannon if she would mind, if I painted a picture of her and dad. She didn’t expect it to be this creation because she didn’t know about the photo. I am very pleased with how it came out and happy I can share this gift with my family.