Category Archives: Art Processing: Indigeneity

Art projects/workshops I have facilitated with individuals or groups on the topic of cultural reclamation, decolonization, and indigenous identity.

Mural for Champlain College’s Indigenous Awareness Week

In March 2019, the following artwork was commissioned as part of Champlain College’s (QC) Indigenous Awareness Week. The goal was to create an image that reflected on traditional knowledge, colonization and trauma as well as the multigenerational resilience of Indigenous people.

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“Multigenerational Resilience” (2019). Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte. Acrylic on un-stretched canvas

Taking a Mohawk First Nation’s approach, the painting was constructed through narrative, contained in the symbol of a wampum and spread across a 3ft by 8ft canvas. The two-row wampum, to provide some background to this symbol, was a historic treaty agreement between the First Nations people and the Crown that stated that each nation was of its own way of life, living side by side.

The imagery within this symbol was meant to timeline the role of colonization and its impact on Indigenous wellness, including how genocide, missing and murdered Indigenous women, legislative violence and Residential schooling led to multigenerational trauma as well as outstanding socio-economic marginalization. The  wampum symbol within the current societal context thus reflects the social commentary on the poor state of ‘nation-to-nation’ dialogue with Indigenous communities. The mural also acts to reflect the multigenerational wisdom and resilience of Indigenous people through the ways communities have adapted to cultural safety and that ways nations stand in solidarity against injustice to land, body and culture.

This mural now permanently resides at the Champlain College in Quebec as a conversation piece among its students. Reconciliation begins with dialogue.

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Mural displayed at Champlain College.

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McGill Indigenous Awareness Week

Today I will be speaking on a panel about resisting gendered violence and indigenous sovereignty as part of McGill’s Indigenous Awareness Week, alongside some amazing women and speakers.

https://www.mcgill.ca/equity_diversity/channels/event/5th-annual-indigenous-awareness-week-254767

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Skátne Ionkwatehiahróntie’ – “Our Families Grow Together”

Today, I reflect on the Skátne Ionkwatehiahróntie’ – “Our Families Grow Together” program in my community.

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Planting through our Creation Story

It was almost one year ago, I approached a good friend of mine at the Native Youth Sexual Health Network with an idea: “I want to run a parenting program for parent’s under the age of 25. I want to address the stigma we face as young parents and I want to create a space where we learn our traditional teachings with our children. I want to do it through art”

Having a background in Circle of Security Attachment parenting as well as formal training in Art Education gave me the confidence to dream the program, but being a young mother myself gave me the courage to chase it.

As young parents, we tend to be labeled as “failed”, “irresponsible”, or “unsuccessful”; there is stigma that follows us when we leave the house that sometimes affects our own confidence in parenting. Even in safe spaces like parenting groups or support groups, our needs and experiences tend . All of the sudden, becoming a young mom meant I no longer had access to sexual education or support resources for my age.

And I know I was not alone.

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Weekly reflection mural; at the end of 10 weeks, we will have a large mural full of ideas, experiences and teachings.

Together, we actively sought out funding and networking to create something unique for the other young mothers in the community; I wanted to create a space for us to grow together WITH our children–not just as people or parents, but as Kanienkeha’ka. I wanted to empower our young women and remind them of how important they are, not just to their little ones but to our whole community–to themselves.

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Learning and making traditional medicine.

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Making our “distress kits”–medicine bags to fill up with our own healing tools.

Fast forward two phases, each lasting 10 weeks, we now have a group of young women actively learning their language, their traditions and their teachings through our relationships to the land and our culture.

Together, we explore healthy relationships, rites of passage, parenting struggles and life struggles through cultural knowledge.

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Taking our children strawberry picking and sharing their teachings in the land with our children.

Granted, curriculum planning, funding hunting and coordinating elders/knowledge keepers in the community is no easy feat, but I wouldn’t trade facilitating this program for the world.

Just hearing the young women share their stories in how they changed how they parent as well as relate to their children (and themselves!) is enough to keep the fire going.

Each of them have gifts and it is through programs like this one, that they are able to grow each of them.

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Charting our moontimes through beaded necklaces

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Making moontime zines and restoring traditional knowledge

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Making splints to weave a basket.

Their little ones have a strong future ahead of them.

Art Making and Cultural Restoration

Reflecting back to 2014, I worked with some youth from a neighbouring Mohawk community who were going through our traditional rites of passage ceremonies. In addition to processing traditional knowledge, myself and a colleague of mine ran through an arts-based workshop on leadership and youth/community mobilization.

We used interactive activities to deconstruct the definitions of leadership and help each youth (11-21) reapply new concepts to themselves. To finish, we facilitated the creation of 30 foot mural of leadership in Indigenous communities.

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To have a workshop facilitated in your community, please do not hesitate to contact me.