CANMORE – Combining the intricate, fascinating works of a Canadian-American Abenaki filmmaker with the eloquent voices of local community members, artsPlace is partnering with Indigenous 150+ for an evening of film and conversation.
A project that aims to continue a dialogue while simultaneously learning about the richness of different Indigenous communities through arts and culture, artsPlace will be presenting the film Our People Will Be Healed as well as hosting two guest speakers.
JoAnne Fishburn, creator and CEO of Indigenous 150+ speaking to the Outlook from Toronto in a phone interview, said the event is a way to bring communities together.
“We live in a country that values multiculturalism, however Indigenous cultures, First Nations, Metis, Inuit, that were here long before – I guess the first multiculturalism of Canada – have not in the past been as valued, and so it’s time that we create space for Indigenous artists and culture,” she said.
“So that Canadians get to understand the rich cultures that are Indigenous to Canada and that Indigenous communities and Canadians can come together for shared experiences.”
On its website, Indigenous 150+ describes itself as “a film and conversation series that puts Indigenous voices centre stage.”
Banff Centre’s associate director of Indigenous leadership Alexia McKinnon as well as Tsuut’ina Nation High School principal Jeff Horvath will be the guest speakers at the event.
McKinnon said the event is important to her because it enables the space for these conversations to happen.
“I really agree with the vision that Indigenous 150+ has,” she said.
“I really support the work that they’re doing, the platform and the dialogue that they’re convening, so I wanted to support them. I also really commend artsPlace in the work that they’re doing in creating space for Indigenous arts.”
The film in which the event is named after,Our People Will Be Healed, is by filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin and is described on the artsPlace website as a film that “reveals how a Cree community in Manitoba has been enriched through the power of education” after a local education resource center received “a level of funding that few other Indigenous institutions enjoy.”
McKinnon said she’s particularly excited about seeing Obomsawin’s film, which will be her 50th film made to date.
“I love Alanis Obomsawin’s films and anything that she does and I get the privilege of watching,” she said with a laugh.
“I just think my life is so much more gifted as a result. She’s just beautiful ... like she’s the matriarch of story tellers.”
Obomsawin is known for documentaries like Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistant (1993) and Incident at Restigouche (1984). According to the National Film Board of Canada’s website, she is “one of the most acclaimed Indigenous directors in the world.”
The director has been honoured internationally for her work and was showcased in the 2008 retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Fishburn said the film aspect is integral to the project as it’s among the most effective forms of art.
“The first step is to getting to know one another, I think arts is the strongest way to do that,” said Fishburn.
“And cinema, we know is one of the most powerful mediums of our times.”
Fishburn said currently Indigenous 150+ is working in partnership with NationTalk.
“It really is because of their support that we’re able to have the vision to grow this into a national initiative,” she said.
As well, Fishburn said they’re hoping to launch a new initiative this fall that would include youth ambassadors across the country at art centres to host events on a quarterly basis.
“I want to highlight that artsPlace is truly helping us to pioneer this initiative as well,” she added.
As for McKinnon, she said she’s continuously grateful for opportunities like these ones.
“I always honour those who create the space for dialogue,” she said.
Our People Will Be Healed along with conversations with McKinnon and Horvath will take place at artsPlace on Tuesday (April 30) at 7:00 p.m. Visit artsplacecanmore.com to find out more.
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