National Aboriginal Day: Saturday, June 21st

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This weekend Canada celebrates National Aboriginal Day with events and festivities taking place all over the country. To honour all of the amazing community arts initiatives working in/with FNMI and northern communities, I’ve put together a list of some of the inspiring projects I’ve had the privilege of posting about over the past 7 months.

Neechee Studio: A Fresh New Program of Free Art Workshops for Aboriginal Youth Led by Local Emerging & Aboriginal Artists (Thunder Bay)
« This exciting youth-driven initiative focuses on artistic expression and learning various art mediums and skills as an empowering and reparative method to address the personal experiences of Aboriginal youth who have been exposed to family, peer and domestic violence. » [NOTE: There are no workshops planned for the summer but they will continue in November]

Trace Project Engages Community in Creation of Massive Sculpture for Canadian Museum for Human Rights (Winnipeg)
Winnipeg artist Rebecca Belmore invited the people of Winnipeg to leave an imprint of their hand in clay gathered from 20-feet beneath the city in the creation of TRACE, a large sculpture for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, opening in September 2014. « The modest gesture of forming these beads is a reminder of how precious and universal the bond is between humans and the earth. »

Artists Raise Funds for Cape Dorset Nunavut Mural Project
Spearheaded by artists Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson, the Cape Dorset Mural Project is a collaboration between northern and southern artists. This project will bring Cape Dorset their first ever outdoor mural while teaching the community’s youth about contemporary mural art practices through a series of workshops.

DAREarts Out On the Land in Attawpiskat: Stories from a DAREarts Artist-Educator
Cathy Elliott is an artist educator with DAREarts’ First Roots program. Once a month, Cathy shares her stories and experiences working with First Nations youth in remote northern communities such as Webequie (ON), Marten Falls (ON), Sioux Lookout (ON), Attawapiskat (ON) and Indian Brook (NS). Of the DAREarts youth in Attawapiskat, Cathy says: « Congratulations on a job well done. You are great kids. It’s good to know you. You are the good news coming out of Attawapiskat. »

Community Art Project Created in Partnership with Sex Workers Alliance Network Sudbury & Myths and Mirrors (Sudbury)
Myths and Mirrors is a multidisciplinary arts organization in Sudbury, ON. They are currently facilitating a really unique arts initiative called The Swan Project. While Myths and Mirrors offers a fantastic range of programming aimed at all members of the community, this project in particular caught my attention as it engages a group we don’t often hear from. Read on to find out more about this project that aims to give sex workers a voice…

Walking With Our Sisters: Travelling Exhibition Honouring Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (CAN & US)
« Walking With Our Sisters is an entirely crowd-sourced project. From the artwork, to the fundraising, even to the way the exhibit tour is being booked, it is all being fueled by hundreds and thousands of people who have chosen to become involved. Collectively we are creating one unified voice to honour these women, their families and call for attention to be paid to this issue. There is power in numbers, and there is power in art. »

Aboriginal Arts & Stories Winners Announced (Canada-wide)
“From across Canada, these amazing young artists have explored everything from their own personal pasts to the stories of their ancestors and country. They are a testament to the great potential for creativity, engagement and respect in Aboriginal communities across Canada.”

I want to thank everyone for sharing their stories and remind those who haven’t already done so to please join our Facebook page, ArtBridges: FNMI + Northern Community Arts.

On behalf of everyone at ArtBridges, I want to wish you all a Happy National Aboriginal Day! Enjoy this special day of celebration with your family, friends and community!

– Cora-Rae Silk, Indigenous Community Arts Coordinator & Communications Assistant
* For some of the events taking place across Canada, please visit the Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development Canada website

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