As a filmmaker, writer and musician I seek to combine my formal marketing education with my passion and dedication for the Mi’kmaq community. I make art to act as a conduit and amplifier for my people, documenting our stories and creating new ones. I will speak for them when necessary, but never without them.
From my point of view, as a Mi’kmaw from Flat Bay on the Island of Newfoundland, we seem to have have retained echoes of what was written for the Massey Commission by Dr. and Mrs. Hawthorn;
“There is still a widespread ignorance about Indian cultures. The movies and the comics provide the only general knowledge to many people. All Indians are portrayed as living in tipis and wearing feathers, until even some Indians have come to believe this.”1
Written in the early 1950s, the settlers recognized they could typecast my people, a caricature that was so pervasive we believed it ourselves. I’m sure you have your own examples.
A Cultural Diversity Committee is essential, not just to break types, but to help reevaluate where and how these systemic problems are generated and can be countermanded. My focus is to assure that the heritage, living history and legacy of ALL of our ancestors are respected and honoured.
Wela’lioq—Thank-you to you all.
Photo Credit: W. Evan Butler
1Dr. and Mrs. Harry B. Hawthorn, Special Study, Contemporary Art of the Canadian Indian, page 59. Canada. Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters, and Sciences. Report Chapter XV Indian Arts and Crafts Ottawa : King’s Printer, 1951. By permission of the Privy Council Office. (https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/massey/h5-434-e.html)