June 04, 2023

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“Pass The Feather To Me!” | A Classroom Art Exchange Program is creating exciting friendships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth, teachers and artists using visual culture to transcend logistic and financial barriers. We are creating co-operative and respectful interrelations for future generations.

While initiating creativity and re-visiting traditional Aboriginal teachings, the program aims to:

  • Create friendships that exceed logistic and financial barriers.
  • Encourage healing and mitigate inter-generational trauma.
  • Create equality amongst Canada’s youth.
  • Develop informed opinions on matters relating to the culture of Aboriginal peoples.
  • Employ Aboriginal artists
  • Show respect and reciprocation to our Elders and their teachings.

Art is our most powerful tool of expression in Aboriginal culture. Through visual culture Indigenous students, teachers and artists are more willing to reach out and re-conciliate with their non-Aboriginal peers and associates. It is empowering.

Our Artists, Educators and Classrooms need a program where they can collaborate to create informed opinions of cultural issues and this program is doing that. It is connecting these 3 integral positions and moving towards a future of communication and co-operation through visual arts.

Connecting. Providing. Empowering.
This year one of our participating First Nations classroom is only accessible by floatplane or ice road – clearly creating a barrier between them and their peers…. and between them and the world. They are in great need of art supplies and Elder direction and with your funding, we would be able to CONNECT them to traditional teachings and most of all friendships with their peers. Logistics should not be a barrier – postal codes should not segregate our children.

Visiting Fort Albany is integral to empowering artists and art students in remote First Nations. The trip is long and from what I understand, unpleasant. These people cannot leave. Floatplane and ice road are the only options. We must go to them. We have to visit and empower these artists o might never know what talents and spirits reside there.

A Unique and Innovative Program
This program will play a part in repairing relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. It is an important program and the only one of it’s kind. This program will become a Canadian and worldwide art and friendship initiative.

Response Exceeds Funding
The response has been overwhelming. Due to funding, I have had to limit our registration to 6 classrooms leaving hundreds of children disappointed.

About Us
I am a Haudenosaunee (Mohawk) First Nations artist and founder of Pass The Feather. My partner is Dawn Woodruff, Annishinaabe and educator. Collaborative artist is David Finkle, a Mohawk musician and traditional craftsperson that is well respected in his role as visiting artist throughout Ottawa’s school system and the Aboriginal community.

Reaching Our Students
Reaching the schools in our first year of operation is crucial to the success of the program. We will:

  • Connect to local artists.
  • Connect to communities and Elders.
  • Gain support from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal educators.
  • Physically participate in exploring the subject matter of the art collaborative.
  • Document the process using photography and videography – for use in marketing materials.

Generating Income | Establishing a Permanent Venue
Pass the Feather intends to employ Aboriginal artists for the long term. Pass the Feather also runs a web page that supports Aboriginal artists and craftspeople that are struggling with opportunities to market and sell their work. We also intend to fundraise and exhibit the work of artists with logistic and financial struggles. The professional & financial success and elite status of markets such as the Santa Fe Indian Market is not out of reach. First Nations, Métis and Inuit art of Canada has always been in demand. There are thousands of craftspeople and artists who, because of logistics and financing, cannot sell their work. We’ve got to create a physical marketplace where live workshops, art and craft supplies, Aboriginal education, music, festivals and sales come together.

An idea like this is all encompassing and Canadian educators and communities are demanding it.

When Canada’s 150th birthday approaches, we can be ready for visibility! A grand exhibition can bring together the children from our art exchange program!

This is the opportunity to move forward and your business can be the one they thank for the opportunity.

Immediate Financial Request
For the 2015 school year, there are 6 classrooms actively registered. Pass The Feather | Classroom Art and Knowledge Exchange Program is requesting financing for:

Art Supplies – $500.00 per classroom
Artist Visit – $1000.00 per classroom (includes materials and instructor)
Elder Visit – $500 per classroom (includes transportation, lunch, honoraria, gift)

Secondary Financial Request
Reaching the schools in our first year of operation is crucial to the success of the program. This opportunity will allow us to meet the local artists, educators and students to create a relationship and foundation for future art programs.

Additionally, it is imperative that we document the program. I personally volunteer to record and create an exceptional collective of marketing materials. 2-3 people are available to make these trips. Price represents travel costs only for one person.

Ultimate Financial Request
Become a permanent, visible and proud supporter of a prominent physical venue where Canada’s artists, collectors, educators, students and community members can participate in Aboriginal gatherings, art demonstrations, art in residence programs and classes.

While I have grand expectations for ‘Pass the Feather’ and all that it encompasses, immediately required is funding for the Classroom Art Exchange. The program has already begun and my personal savings has been drained. It is with all certainty that this project will become a widely publicized, nation-wide program. It has only been alive for a few months and we cannot keep up with the demand from our educators and community members.

There are no other programs similar to this. We are the Aboriginal Arts Collective of Canada and we intend to live up to our name, empower our artists, enable our students and meet the Nation’s demand for fun, accessible First Nations education and art.

We’d appreciate your support.

Nia:wen and kindest regards,

Dawn Setford,
Executive Director,
Aboriginal Arts Collective of Canada

Pass The Feather | Classroom Art Exchange Introductory Video

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About The Author

MUSKRAT Magazine

MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.

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