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  • Writer's pictureHannah Johnston

Art that highlights Indigenous voices on this day of truth and reconciliation

Art can serve as a powerful medium of self-expression to tell stories, some of which are often overlooked or misconstrued throughout history. Here are some artistic mediums that allow Indigenous voices to shine through and tell their own stories on Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

PHOTO: Government of Canada

A Poem for Truth and Reconciliation by Thamer Linklater

We are the granddaughters of survivors.

We are the nieces of people who never came home.

This entire year has been excruciating for us.

Not like a punch to the stomach,

One you don't see coming,

Taking your breath all at once.

But like an avalanche.

The slow collection of snow on a mountaintop.

Until, one day, a sound sets off a cascade,

Wrecking everything in its path.

We all saw the building snow.

Our bodies knew the horrors untold.

You see, we live near the mountains.

Towns, however, that are crushed by snow,

Are shielded by walls and roads.

Existing so far away from mountaintops.

A sea of orange now floods the landscape.

T-shirts, signs, banners, handprints

Take up the space cleared by snow.

Some wear the colour to commemorate

Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins.

Some wear the colour to honour

The childhood that was stolen from them.

Some wear the colour as a sign of atonement.

Refusing to let history be buried.

Some wear the colour to blend in.

Using apologies, holidays, and shirts

To cover the gap.

Meanwhile pipelines, legal action, and police raids

Tear the rift further and further apart.

We are the granddaughters of survivors.

We are the nieces of those who never came home.

We are apart of the avalanche.

We had our hearts unburied with every child found.

Where do you fit in this story unfolding?

Thamer Linklater is a member of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and a survivor of the Child Welfare system in Manitoba. She recently graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a B.A. in English and is now working on her Master's in Indigenous Studies at Trent University. She has worked in various teams for the Six Seasons Project. She has been involved with Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and is an active First Nations advocate. Thamer has recently started work on her collection of poems and hopes to publish them soon. In her free time, she enjoys reading novels, studying her culture, and painting. She has developed a passion for her culture and pursues any chance at learning more about her people.

William Dumas is an asiniskaw īthiniw Knowledge Keeper and acclaimed storyteller from O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation (OPCN). He has been an educator all his life and is passionate about Cree language and culture. He is Co-Leader of the Story Team for the Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Īthiniwak project. Dumas is experienced as a Northern educator and administrator, having worked as a coordinator for the Culture and Language Program for Nisichawayasi Nehetho Culture and Education Authority, and as a First Nations Language & Culture Specialist (Cree) at the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC), Cree Language and Culture Consultant in the Mystery Lake and Frontier School Divisions, as the Director of Education for Fox Lake Education Authority in Nelson House, and as the Executive Director for Northern Nishnabe Education Council. Dumas is the author of the award-winning picture book Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow (2013), which is the first book in the Six Seasons of Asiniskaw Īthiniwak series. He is also the author of The Gift of the Little People (2022).


PHOTO: National Centre for Human and Civil Rights

In this feature-length documentary, Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond takes an entertaining and insightful look at the portrayal of North American Indigenous people throughout a century of cinema. Featuring hundreds of clips from old classics as well as recent releases, the film traces the evolution of the "Hollywood Indian." Diamond guides the audience on a journey across America to some of cinema's most iconic landscapes and conducts candid interviews with celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Robbie Robertson, and Jim Jarmusch. The film is a loving look at cinema through the eyes of the people who appeared in its first flickering images and have survived to tell their stories in their own way.

Viewing is available through the National Film Board of Canada:

SOURCE: National Film Board of Canada

Co-founded in 2003 by Manon Barbeau, the Council of the Atikamekw Nation Youth Council and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, Wapikoni Mobile travels to Aboriginal communities providing workshops for First Nations youth that allow them to master digital tools by directing short films and musical works. During each stopover, "mentor filmmakers" welcome and train thirty young participants during all stages of implementation. Wapikoni's mission is to fight isolation and suicide among First Nations youth with the development of artistic, technical, social, and professional skills, to broadcast films, and to raise public awareness about First Nations issues while enhancing a rich culture, too often overlooked, and also to contribute to the preservation of First Nations cultural heritage.

Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland practice the Inuk art of throat singing in their small village of Kangirsuk. Their mesmerizing voices carry through the four seasons of their Arctic land.

With her music, JB The First Lady wants to bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) of Canada and to Two-Spirit people. Filmmakers Jazmine SMITH, Tyler JACOBS, Melissa MOLLEN DUPUIS and Jerilynn WEBSTER directed four movies produced by WAPIKONI about the testimonies of young Two-Spirit individuals.

Mental health supports available

Former residential school students can call 1-866-925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada.

Indigenous peoples across Canada can also go to The Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and crisis intervention.

Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat (via Google Chrome)

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