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TRUTH – The Opening

The opening reception for the TRUTH exhibition was huge success! People began arriving an hour before the scheduled opening, sneaking in for a preview of the show as tables, chairs and tents were being arranged or assembled. Quickly, the gallery was filled, while more people arrived and waited patiently outside, captivated by the Shawashkong Ikwe Singers and Drummers who performed outside the gallery doors. People also took part in being smudged if they so desired.

The crowd was a thorough mix of Algonquins (artists, family members, friends, and local community members), Settlers (local and regional people, tourists and cottagers), and a splash of Mohawk and Anishnaabe people who together pleasantly but completely overwhelmed the capacity of the Art Gallery of Bancroft.

Everyone was there to take in the deeply moving display about the TRUTH of what it is like to be Indigenous in Canada. The artwork reflected both the joy and comfort found in connection to the land, community, culture and family, as well as the pain, fear, isolation, grief and trauma experienced due to racism, ignorance and the Indian Act. Several patrons were overwhelmed with emotion and had to leave early, vowing to return and revisit the harsh reality they had so long ignored.

Guest speaker Christine Luckasavitch-McRae of the Whitney and Area Algonquins fascinated everyone with a quick overview of the deep history of Algonquins on their territory in Ontario, and a frank assessment of their quickly degenerating relationship with colonial powers after contact.

The ten artists in attendance were kept constantly busy answering questions about their work and discussing issues that need to be addressed before Canada can claim any level of equality for Indigenous People. There were so many conversation ongoing that there truly was a notable “buzz” both inside and outside of the gallery! There was much talk about the need for, and the beginnings of, more co-ordination and co-operation within the ten Algonquins of Ontario communities.

The recently strengthened and growing relationships between Algonquin communities was evidenced by the Snimikobi community generously providing the display of the 4 medicines and a large birch basket of tobacco ties for the exhibition, the engagement of Ms. Luckasavitch-McRae as a speaker, and all of the artists from other Algonquin communities, taking the time and effort to participate in an event organized by Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini curators. We are indeed finding community and trust amongst each other. Watching departing artists exchanging contact information made my heart full!

To say that the TRUTH opening was a tremendous success is an understatement. We have spoken our TRUTH, and it was heard. The response from non-Indigenous people who attended this opening was extremely positive. If you haven’t seen the show yet, please do so. You have until September 30th to go to the Art Gallery of Bancroft and see this free exhibition. All of the people I spoke with at the opening event plan to attend the RECONCILIATION exhibition in October. They want to learn more about how they can help create the change in attitudes, laws and institutions that will finally recognize Indigenous People as equals and treat us as such. Bancroft has made a step in the right direction by hearing and acknowledging the TRUTH of Canada’s racist past and present. Next month we address the changes needed, and more importantly, the actions needed to walk the many paths to RECONCILIATION.

2 thoughts on “TRUTH – The Opening

  1. Solomon TheresaSolomon Theresa

    I was overwhelmed how many attended this event. A powerful connection occurred between many of us. The Art gave way to visualizing a situation, feel through our hearts, and express through speaking. What a healing combination for all. I enjoyed the process of creating my two pieces and healing myself as well. The best part was helping others by answering their questions. Many a tear and hug were shared.


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