Winners have been announced in the third #YQL Expressions of Reconciliation Contest.
This year’s theme was Indigenous Plants and Medicines, which coincides with the United Nations declaration of 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health.
“It’s been a challenging year where a lot of events have been modified or cancelled,” United Way Lethbridge said in a press release.
The release went on to say the organization was grateful to be able to move forward with the contest.
“It’s an opportunity to remind our community that we need to be thinking about reconciliation beyond the City of Lethbridge’s Reconciliation Week in September,” the statement read.
Cash prizes were awarded to the first, second and third place winners, and a People’s Choice prize was handed out based on the results of a social media vote, which took place over Facebook.
This year’s first place and People’s Choice winner, taking home $450, was Star Crop Eared Wolf for her work titled Matapi, an arrangement of pressed flowers and plants.
Chataya Holy Singer was the runner-up and took home a prize of $200 for her work titled Blackfoot Paradigm, a pen and ink design.
Maura Hanrahan won $150 and third place for her work titled The Scent of Sage, a creative, non-fiction written piece.
Contest winner Star Crop Eared Wolf says the inspiration for her piece came from her work at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, where she had been collecting flowers and plants for education programs.
“These were all plants traditionally used by the Blackfoot,” she said.
“I collected them from the plains area and the mountains to put together the shape of the Blackfoot person – the Matapi.”
According to the press release sent out by the United Way, arranging the flowers and plants into the shape of a person represents the important relationship that Indigenous people have with the environment, both historically and present day, and reinforces the idea all humans are not separate from the land.
Holy Singer’s pen and ink design was featured on Reconciliation Week T-Shirts in September.
The artist says she’s happy to see her work on display.
“There were people who didn’t get a shirt in September, so it’s nice that they can see it here,” Holy Singer said.
“It’s great to be recognized as an emerging Blackfoot artist in the community.”
The contest is sponsored by Reconciliation Lethbridge, United Way Lethbridge, and the Lethbridge Indigenous Sharing Network.
Although COVID-19 restrictions have prevented a gathering to celebrate the artists, all of the submissions are on display at the Casa Art Gallery in downtown Lethbridge up until the end of December.
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