Indiginesse: an interview with Nathalie Bertin

AURORA – The Indignesse art exhibition featuring numerous Indigenous women artists will start May 7 to June 28, 2014 at the Aurora Cultural Centre, 22 church street, Aurora, Ontario. I spoke with the curator of Indigenesse, Nathalie Bertin.

What inspired you to do this?

As an artist, whenever I had an exhibition of my own work, I was often confronted with an audience that just didn’t know or understand Aboriginal people or history in Canada. When Idle No More became huge, and the media was all over Chief Spence, I thought there had to be something we could do, as artists to help the average person understand who indigenous people are because artists are usually the ones who record our true history through their art. So we’re the ones who should step up and talk about it. Also, from a purely personal point of view, I wanted to get to know my peers – other indigenous women artists from across Canada.

Can you elaborate on how you were motivated by Idle No More?

Well, I just found that a lot of people were getting “sound bites” from the media without adequate explanation of what the movement was all about. So, the general public was forming inaccurate pictures of not only the movement, but also the people. It just amazes me that most Canadians still think Aboriginal people don’t pay taxes or don’t face the same kinds of issues as ordinary Canadians, in addition to the issues with treaties, or the missing and murdered women, or residential schools. I thought that bringing the artists together to show them artwork that represents them as they are in contemporary society would be a creative way to open discussion and maybe correct some of ideas that people have about native women, and bridge the gap between native and non-native people.

Who is in your artisitic line up?

We have an awesome line up: Kayeri Akweks, Christi Belcourt, Lee Deranger, Raven Davis, Lee Claremont, Lita Fontaine, LauraLee K. Harris, Maria Hupfield, Nadya Kwandibens, Tanya Lukin-Linklater, Shelley Niro, Janice Toulouse; Also, Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk will do a musical performance. We also have workshops in beading and quillwork scheduled. It was important for us to include traditional arts.

When is the grand opening?

The show is open to the general public starting May 7 but the official Opening Reception is May 15, from 7-9pm. We will have Métis Nation of Ontario Senator Alys Kennedy doing an opening blessing. In this case, the Senator is the Métis equivalent to the Aboriginal Elder. They are the knowledge keepers and the ones who pass it on. Raven Davis is doing a poetry reading about her work; and Suzanne and Cedar Smoke are performing a traditional song with drum. Suzanne is originally from the Curve Lake, Alderville area. Her daughter Cedar is Chippewa from Georgina Island.

For more information go to Facebook: Indiginesse or call (905) 713-1818

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