September 15, 2017 8:01 pm

Napanee District Secondary School works to further reconciliation through Indigenous art

Napanee District Secondary School furthers reconciliation through indigenous art

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High school students and Indigenous artists have partnered to spread knowledge and understanding of Indigenous culture.

Large murals now line the upper walls of Napanee District Secondary School library.

They are the result of the Indigenous Culture Project.

The project started a year ago when teacher Karen Randall Blancher was at the Inspire Indigenous Conference.

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“Converging Pathways and Beyond Connections in Saskatchewan challenged us to be able to see how we could handle the path of reconciliation within our school from a youth action standpoint,” said Blancher.

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Elder Onagottay is a knowledge keeper and says sharing his knowledge of Indigenous culture and history with the next generation of Canadian youth plays an important role in healing the wrongs of the past.

“This is what’s going to fix it, our hearts and let’s not fight each other let’s work together and let’s heal the past together and let’s walk together as a people, as a nation.”

Each of mural, consisting of three panels measuring 24 feet in length tells a story of Indigenous history, culture, and legends.

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Artist Kirk Brant now lives in Ottawa but is originally from Tyendenaga Mohawk territory and painted some of the murals.

“If there is any sort of deficit within the upcoming generation, I have enough knowledge, enough experience to fill that deficit to offer them something that they’re not going to get in other places,” Brant said.

Grade 11 high school student Ariel Burgess contributed her artistic talents working with one of the artists to paint a panel.

“It was a lot of learning very fast but it didn’t feel overwhelming and it was something I looked forward to going to every single day.”

Students from grade school to high school came to the exhibit and participated in drumming and crafts.

Indigenous author Rick Revelle’s books are in school libraries across Manitoba and now the limestone district school board.
He brought artifacts some dating back to the 13th century for the students to see, touch and feel.

“The little ones they came in today, so full of questions and I give them what knowledge I have and I’m still learning too and that helps to bridge the gap,” Revelle said.

The public will have a chance to see the work. Blancher says they will be participating in cultural days at the end of the month.

“Come in the side doors you’ll see the fried bread being cooked as you go that you can purchase and then you come into the library and the whole day, the rest of the school is closed but the library is open. ”

The cultural festival in Napanee runs over three days starting September 29th.

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