Creative expression workshop shines light on Indigenous identities

Photo by Jenny Fisher.
Photo by Jenny Fisher.

As part of the second annual Indigenous awareness week, the TCSA hosted “What It Means To Be Indigenous: Creative Expresssion Worskshop” in the LEC pit last Tuesday.

More than a dozen students and members of the  community defied last week’s wintery bluster to sprawl out on the floor, put on some music, and begin painting their interpretation of the evening’s theme—what it means to be Indigenous and what it means to be an ally.

While this is the second annual Indigenous Awareness Week, it was the first time that an event focusing on creative expression has been included as part of the week’s activities.

TCSA Indigenous Issues Commissioner Karly DeCaire was on hand for the event and was responsible for organizing it.

Says DeCaire, “We felt that using the art would be a really engaging way to help students both understand and express their own interpretation of the theme as differnent people have different ways of experiencing an articulating those idea. Ultimately we want to bring people in to the spirit of the week as whole, and find a fun and creative way to give more visibility to positive images of Indigenous identities.”

DeCaire also gratefully acknowledged the help from Gzowski College and TUNA (Trent University Native Association). TUNA co-president Cheryl-Anne James was also in attendance.
As James explained “A lot of our members came for the chance to express in a positive and artistic way these identities and explore them. There’s no negativity here.”

James also explained the specific value that this particular arts-focused event added to the overall week. “This notion of identity is often very interpretative, so over there my sister, my son, and I are all working on one piece based on our experiences, while other people are using their images and symbols to express what it means to them,” she said.

James continues, “its not something that you can ‘this is the facts, this what it has to be, this is what it has to mean’ and I think workshops like this help reinforce that and prevent people from trying to control or monopolize it.”

She adds, “if you look around you see some people using words, some people painting a lot  flowers, some people with a lot of sky or using the colours of the medicine wheel—it’s because it doesn’t always mean the same thing to people and there are many, many different ways of creating and bringing positive Indigenous identities to light.”

Blue seemed to be most popular colour; by the time the group broke for pizza and refreshments, blue paint was already in short supply.

For people who wanted to attend but were kept at home by the weather, don’t worry—you may have a chance to see the works produced in the future, according to DeCaire.

“We’re going put them on a board, probably in Gzowski, so that people can see the works as well as give Indigenous identities more of a presence on campus.”

Arthur was also greatly visible at this event as its pages were being used protect the carpet from spilled paint, proving to its critics that it was, in fact, good for something.

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