The Three Sisters Gallery at Elevation Place is celebrating a diverse tapestry of Indigenous cultures and artistic expressions through an exhibition that brings together a collection of illustrations, beadwork, dance, photography and other visual storytelling.
Aptly named, Indigenous Perspectives explores six Indigenous artists’ ancestral connections, traditional knowledge and viewpoints.
“This is only our second show of the year at Three Sisters Gallery and we thought it was important to put together to demonstrate our commitment to Indigenous relations through the exhibit and working with artists across the province,” said Sue Hayduk, arts and culture coordinator with the Town of Canmore.
“We saw that there’s definitely a desire for Indigenous people to show up and express themselves as artisans and craftspeople. We think the gallery is a great place to honour that element of culture and expression.”
The show opened June 1 with a blessing from Îyârhe Nakoda knowledge keepers and an honour song. It will run throughout National Indigenous History Month and into August.
The collection showcases the individuality, creativity, and diverse portrayal of various Indigenous cultures, traditions and histories.
One notable aspect features traditional hoop and jingle dress dancing by Bigstone Cree Nation’s Sandra Lamouche. Her work, captured on video, is a performance which honours missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and two-spirited people (MMIWG2S).
Other featured artists include James Skelton, a Canmore resident with Haida Nation status, in Haida Gwaii, B.C.; Tania Big Plume, of Tsuut’ina Nation; Autumn Whiteway, a Saulteaux Métis woman; and Îyârhe Nakoda Nations artists Gordon Wesley and Jera Dee Crawler.
The artwork of Whiteway, a self-proclaimed art activist, occupies a large part of the exhibit, entitled History is Written by the Victors.
“It’s a substantial collection,” said Hayduk. “She’s a very well-celebrated Métis artist who works in mixed media, and she really helped us tie this show together with all sorts of mixed media.”
Hayduk said response to the exhibit as a whole has been positive so far, including from the Indigenous community.
“We collect comment cards and we can see what people are saying about the show,” she said. “There’s been some really high accolades from the Indigenous community that it’s really portraying Indigenous perspectives and not a colonial perspective of Indigenous peoples.
“We’re really pleased to hear that we’ve been able to have artists tell their stories authentically, and I think that’s a really important part of the strength of the exhibit.”
Wesley, a well-known artist who resides in Îyârhe Nakoda’s Big Horn community, is also participating in a Town of Canmore initiative to paint two murals at the Civic Centre, with an unveiling expected around June 15.
Later in the month, on June 17, the Town will be celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day, in advance of June 21. There will be an artisan’s market with 40 vendors, storytelling, dancing and drumming throughout the morning and afternoon, with much of the day’s festivities happening at the Canmore Civic Centre, Civic Centre Plaza and Rotary Friendship Park.
“I think if people are looking to explore a little bit more about Indigenous cultures and perspectives, the initiatives we’re running this month offer a real variety,” said Hayduk. “There’s a lot of opportunities to catch a learning moment.”
Indigenous Perspectives runs at Elevation Place until August 30. For more information about National Indigenous Peoples Day activities in Canmore, visit https://canmore.ca/residents/town-events/national-aboriginal-day.
By Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jun 14, 2023