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Mayworks Opening - Seeking Netukulimk - Art & Indigenous Resistance

2014 MayworksHalifax Festival

- 8:30pm
Wednesday April 23 2014

Venue: Dalhousie Arts Centre
Address: 6101 University Ave
Cost: Free
Accessibility: Yes

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Join us to celebrate the opening of the 5th Annual MayworksHalifax Festival of artists and working people.

The year since our last festival has been marked with countless brave acts of resistance. Of particular notice has been the resurgence of defiance against Canada’s colonial behaviour toward Indigenous peoples and an amazing growth in awareness surrounding land and treaty rights.

In recognition of the Peace and Friendship Treaties that bind us together in the Atlantic region, the 2014 festival opens with traditional Mi’kmaw ceremonies offered by elder Billy Lewis and the All Nations Drummers who will remind us of our responsibilities toward each other in solidarity and toward the land we inhabit.

The Mayworks opening, held in the Dalhousie Arts Centre, also includes a full evening of art and discussion along this same theme!

On the same evening:

Make your way through the Beat Nation exhibition at the Dalhousie Art Gallery and follow us to the MacAloney Room (406) for a screening of Seeking Netukulimk beginning at 7:00pm. The evening then culminates with a panel discussion on the topic of Art and Indigenous Resistance featuring guests Ursula A. Johnson, Sherry Pictou and Kerry Prosper. Follow the links for details about each of these segments of our evening celebration!



Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture

Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery
Presented by the Dalhousie Art Gallery and the Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery

Make sure to visit both the Dal and SMU art galleries to take in this exhibition that describes a generation of artists who juxtapose urban youth culture with Aboriginal identity to create innovative and unexpected new cultural hybrids—in painting, sculpture, installation, performance and video—that reflect the current realities of Aboriginal peoples today.

Since the early 1990s, hip hop has been a driving force of activism for urban Aboriginal youth in communities across the continent. The roots of this music have been influential across disciplines and have been transformed to create dynamic forums for storytelling and indigenous languages, as well as new modes of political expression. In the visual arts, artists remix, mash up and weave together the old with the new, the rural with the urban, traditional and contemporary as a means to rediscover and reinterpret Aboriginal culture within the shifting terrain of the mainstream.


Seeking Netukulimk

A film by Martha Stiegman with Kerry Prosper

20 minutes

Kerry Prosper is a passionate fisher and Mi’kmaq elder, who is teaching his grandchildren how to exercise their treaty rights by fishing eels. But those rights come with sacred responsibilities to care for the land and waters of Mi’kma’ki. Seeking Netukulimk is a lyrical exploration of the traditional laws that govern fishing in the Mi’kmaq world, and some of the political battles that have been fought to defend them.


Art and Indigenous Resistance

Panel Discussion featuring
Ursula A. Johnson, Sherry Pictou and Kerry Prosper

Looking back at the recent growth in Indigenous activism and demands for treaty recognition our panel of artists and filmmakers will share their thoughts on the role of art in those struggles. What role has art played in communicating the message of those struggles to broader audiences? Has this been followed by a growth in recognition of Indigenous cultures, and if so, what significance has this had for Indigenous artists and activists?

Ursula A. Johnson
Ursula is a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where she studied photography, drawing and textiles. She also studied Theatre at Cape Breton University. Ursula descends from a long line of Mi’kmaw Artists, including her late Great-Grandmother, Caroline Gould, from whom she learned basket making. She uses traditional techniques to build subtly non-functional forms—objects that are clearly traditionally based yet raised to a metaphorical level of signification, as works of art. Ursula’s solo exhibition Mi’kwite’tmn will be presented from June 7 to August 3 at the Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery.

Sherry Pictou
Sherry is a former Chief of the Bear River First Nation, Nova Scotia. Much of her work has involved political and activist work in ascertaining the right to initiate community approaches to natural resource harvesting and management. Together with Martha Stiegman, she produced In the Same Boat?, a film which explores the common ground between indigenous and non-native communities, while showing the very different role fishing plays in both cultures. Sherry’s artistic practices also include story telling, poetry, drawing and photography. She is currently an Interdisciplinary PhD student at Dalhousie University and serves as co-chair of the World Forum of Fisheries Peoples.

Kerry Prosper
Kerry is a respected elder, traditional healer and former Chief of Paqtnkek First Nation, Nova Scotia. He currently works with the Paqtnkek Fish and Wildlife Society and the Seeking Netukulimk: Mi’kmaq Knowledge, Culture and Empowerment research project at St. Francis-Xavier University. Together with Martha Stiegman, he wrote and directed the film Seeking Netukulimk.


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