LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: INDIGENOUS ARTS EDUCATION
Inspired by Indigenous artists, educators, and learners who believe it is possible for the planet and our communities to return to a state of well-being, MUSKRAT Magazine is proud to present issue #7: Indigenous Arts Education.
Under the beautiful and prolific canvas of Métis visual artist, Christi Belcourt, we see The Wisdom of the Universe* and the juxtaposition of both its power and fragility. Included in this painting is the Dwarf Lake Iris, the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid, the Karner Blue butterfly, and the Acadian Flycatcher, each among the over 200 species of plants and animals listed as threatened, endangered, or extinct in Ontario, Canada
Belcourt’s work connects us to our relatives: the animals and plants, lands and waters and according to her, “…each with as much right to exist as we have.” Colonization in Canada works to separate each of us from our relatives. Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike are impacted resulting in the dysfunction, hurt, and imbalance we witness around us. From the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to over 692 oil spill “incidents” across Canada since 2008*, all Canadians and members of Turtle Island are affected.
MUSKRAT’s Indigenous Arts Education issue will feature the work of visionary artists such as Mohawk choreographer and Artistic Director, Santee Tekaronhiáhkhwa Smith, founder of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, a contemporary Indigenous dance company based in Toronto and Six Nations that views, “…the body as a vessel for the spirit and the artist a culture bearer.”
Over the next several months MUSKRAT will roll out the work of many more Indigenous multi-disciplinary and literary arts leaders who invite the wisdom of the universe into their arts practices and approaches and who, in turn, invite audiences and learners to enter processes of radical change.
For that, Gimiigwechiwendam (I am thankful)
*See this extraordinary painting at The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) who commissioned and received it at the 2014 Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award ceremony honoring Christi Belcourt. Gratefully used in MUSKRAT with permission from the artist.