Saturday, 14 July 2012

Land * Love * Hope * Home

Flora Jo's poster: This Land is My Land (2012, Lynn Wainwright photo)
Artist George Littlechild has come most years to do a workshop or workshops with the children and/or youth of Richmond School District #38. This year, my daughter Flora Jo attended, and during the school district's NAD celebration, she showed me the poster that she made (top photo, by Lynn Wainwright). She pointed out to me the red and white hands joined, which I had noticed, and in the upper right hand region of the circle, an unhealed wound, represented by a bandage with blood on it. The large words read:

Land * Love * Hope * Home

The bluesiness within the radiant silver was appropriate: the idea that the circle is held together with a yellowing bandage gave me pause.

Harper's self-discovery (2007, George Littlechild photo)

I attended an earlier workshop with my sons Theo and Harper, back in 2007. That year we were considering the meaning of culture, and community, and making self-portraits. Harper and his poster are shown above (part of George's event documentation, and shared with permission of both Harper & George).

Theo's poster was deep blue and fiery orange, one hand the sun and the other the moon, himself at the centre. Mine was all the grass of my youth, the prairie sky, with small children and animals in my hair. At some point I peeked over at Theo's work-in-progress, and loved how he'd resolved the "how do we draw hands?" question, spectacular! empowering!

I returned to my work inspired, allowing my left hand to become a river, each finger trailing away to the edge of the page.  My idea to have my right hand become a basket was less successful, so I called upon others for help:  I knelt on the floor in the imagined pose, and joAnne Noble sketched my hand holding a yogurt-tub/basket, on my behalf.

Theo later noted that he received adult comment, suggesting that he'd borrowed an idea from his ma~ that he might have been more original! I am hereby publicly affirming that it was Theo's original idea,

the transformational hands

and I who was inspired to take what i had learned was possible, and adapt it for myself.


Roberta Price began a little gather-in called the 
First Nations Parents Support Group of Richmond, 
I began to attend when I found my way back from Taipei. 

Mike Akiwenzie and Barb Gawa joined, 
First Nations resource teachers of the district,
and it began to grow, became a formal organization.

When Barb moved to another job description, 
Lynn (Skapski) Wainwright arrived.
My family left the district for a few years, 
returning in the autumn of 1998.


George Littlechild's website is a lovely place to hang out, check out his work and works and draw a little sustenance from bold colours:

His collaborative book with Richard Van Camp
continues to be one of my top favourite books for introducing complex ideas about identity and reality in ways that do not alarm: for all ages, highly recommended!

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