Nathan Adler

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Ursula Johnson

Artist statement

I combine a multitude of elements in order to encourage dialogue about identity, ancestry and cultural practice.”

I define my practice as Interdisciplinary. I combine a multitude of elements in order to encourage dialogue about identity, ancestry and cultural practice. I examine these topics through performance, sculpture and installation; aiming to create a space where the viewer is confronted with thought provoking visuals, sounds and scents. Challenging them to investigate the relationship that their ancestry and cultural practices relates to that of mine. Although my methodology is quite consistent, the materials that I consider with each project are crucial in determining the message that I intend to deliver, often juxtaposing aspects of traditional aboriginal art forms and contemporary work. Through the medium of durational performance art (often place-based and employs cooperative didactic intervention) I enter into laborious tasks that create repetitive strain on my body/mind while creating tension with the viewer. Elmiet (He/She Goes Home) 2010 is an example of work, created specifically for Nova Scotia’s Cultural History regarding the 1756 Scalping Proclamation, where I created an event to host the last scalping in Nova Scotia. My most recent work Mi’kwite’tmn (Do You Remember) employs various sculptural mediums to create consideration from my audience about aspects of intangible cultural heritage as it pertains to the consumption of traditional knowledge within the context of colonial institutions; while examining the present generations’ urgency to ascertain the relationship between Aboriginal persons and the natural resources employed in traditional art production.

Ursula Johnson is a Mi’kmaw artist from Eskasoni First Nation. She works in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Indigenous affiliation

Eskasoni First Nation - Mi'kmaw

Region or community

From Eskasoni First Nation on Cape Breton Island residing in Dartmouth Nova Scotia - Atlantic Canada

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Alanis King

I felt it imperative to champion Anishnaabemowin preservation through this art form and oral tradition, some of the plays do not have a documented script because of that process, it was all memory at rehearsals, the fluent actors felt it inside their bones. We entertained a lot of people. I live to create onstage our history intertwined with our mythology, and put it into a story so it lifts off the page and takes on a life form
Alanis King is a playwright, Anishnabe, from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Territory, Ontario.

Helen Knott

Dancing with Decolonization

It's a funny feeling, to empty yourself into efforts towards the elusive.

It's an even funnier feeling when those efforts have been towards elusive justice. Justice. Not materials, not dreams, not a larger bank statement, not trinkets, nor personal ventures...but Justice.

I have been writing poetry and short stories since I was in the fourth grade. At first I scrawled out cliché love poems as my young mind devoured Shakespeare’s works. As a teenager, when childhood traumas rose and personal addictions formed, writing became a necessary part of my survival. As a young adult I used writing to make sense of the world around me and it became an important healing tool. Now I see writing as a conduit to bring healing to others through story and poetry or to shift perspectives and shed insight on social justice matters. I believe that a part of my purpose in my life is to have had the experience of various traumas and then to heal, process, and share those teachings through writing.

I write because it is a part of who I am.

The majority of my writing has focused on creating pieces that speak to issues experienced by many Indigenous people and Indigenous communities such as suicide, addiction, sexual abuse, violence, and of course, the long journey of decolonization. I am currently near completion of a memoir that focuses on all of the aforementioned issues that frames it within the context of intergenerational trauma. After my memoir is complete I will begin writing a fictional novel that focuses on Indigenous suicide and resiliency.

Helen Knott is a writer of the Prophet River First Nation, Peace River Region, Fort St. James, B.C.

Frances Koncan

Artist statement

Indigenous arts are an integral part of rebuilding the foundation of Canadian society and cultural, and in reconciling our traumatic history as a nation in order to make positive, profound changes in the future...”

My artistic practice is deeply rooted in the exploration trauma as expressed through the creative act of rediscovery. My preferred medium is writing for theatre as a playwright, where I can then further apply these discoveries in to three-dimensional forms, using sound, light, taste, touch, and the movement of the human body through time and space, to engage, inspire, and challenge audiences. I am a contemporary artist practicing in experimental, genre-defying mediums that are often rooted in popular western culture rather than Aboriginal tradition, and have often struggled to find my place as an Indigenous writer. In spite of this, my internal creative process is deeply rooted in the tradition value systems of my ancestors, where I strive to challenge my own colonial prejudices to craft new and original words, phrases, and stories that respect all peoples and the natural world and push toward a new understanding as a nation, while also being entertaining and accessible to all. Loss - of language, of family, of history, of culture, of knowledge, of an entire civilization – and exploring it through the means of artistic creation, I endeavour to leave a lasting cultural legacy of new ideas, new knowledge, and new understanding for the generations to come. Indigenous arts are an integral part of rebuilding the foundation of Canadian society and culture, and in reconciling our traumatic history as a nation in order to make positive, profound changes in the future, and I am thrilled to be working as an artist at this exciting time in our collective history.

Frances Koncan is a playwright from Couchiching First Nation, residing in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Indigenous affiliation

Couchiching First Nation

Region or community

Couchiching First Nation; Fort Frances, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba

Winnipeg, Manitoba

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