Youth make art in response to TRC

A map pointer with the image of a church
 on September 1, 2016

In the first half of this year, the youth of Grace Church on-the-Hill, Toronto embarked on some first steps in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. They took part in an art program, called Indigenous Inspirations, that was designed by artist and educator Kay Plante and facilitated by youth group director Sarah Keeshan.

Ms. Plante’s curriculum and hands-on teaching drew inspiration from the artistic styles of the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., better known as the Native Group of Seven, and the nine clan animal emblems of the Six Nations. From there, the program sought to explore the deep and universal relationship between art and spirituality, and to honour the artistic expressions and lives of these remarkable artists and their communities.

The group of 18 young people, aged 11-18, learned about the styles used by these artists and the ways in which their work drew on the mythologies of their spiritual traditions to communicate important spiritual tenets, such as the sacredness of creation and the movement of a sacred life force and energy.

The program culminated in an art exhibition on June 12 in the church’s nave. Here, the entire parish was able to enter into the same spirit of honouring and learning that had guided the youth and to witness the “aletheia” (revelation or drawing back the curtain) embodied by these living aboriginal artistic traditions. “It is our hope that looking at, learning about, and standing witness to these artistic expressions is a way in which we can honour and respect the spiritual traditions of our Indigenous brothers and sisters,” said Ms. Keeshan


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