Recollections and Reflections to the Sharing Circle: Water

Recollections and Reflections to the Sharing Circle: Water with Aaron Nelson-Moody/Splash (Tawx’sin Yexwulla), Meagan Innes and Jamie Thomas held in the Aboriginal Gathering Place, March 3, 2022. 

It was an incredible sharing circle with three amazing cultural keepers. I listened to each share their knowledge of the site where Emily Carr University’s building sits before it was filled in, when the tide flowed.

I know many of our AGP talks and circles are not recorded for various reasons. I also believe in witnessing and oral knowledge sharing practices. This is the reason I approached Laura Kozak and Pat Vera to write their recollections and reflections of this sharing circle. It always amazes me to see diversity of the way in which knowledge is witnessed. Please enjoy the writings.


Pat Vera & Laura Kozak’s responses & reflections

Nicole Johnston Strengthens her Cultural Roots with the AGP

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Nicole Johnston in the Aboriginal Gathering Place in February, 2022. (Photo by Perrin Grauer / Emily Carr University)

by Perrin Grauer

The artist, ECU student and Aboriginal Programs facilitator reflects on her commitment to learning, teaching, history, and to the contemporary work of Aboriginal material practice.

When Nicole Johnston walked into the Aboriginal Gathering Place (AGP) on her very first day as a student at Emily Carr University, she wasn’t even sure what she was looking for or who she would meet.

Nicole, who is from the Squamish Nation, says she’d had little firsthand experience with Aboriginal material practice or culturally specific education.

“We only learned about Indigenous history twice during my whole K to 12 education, and I felt that. I felt like, ‘I need that in my schooling experience.’” she tells me. “Even in my nation, we had a lot offered to us, but I still felt like there could always be more. Growing up, I didn’t feel like I knew my culture as much as people around expected me to, so I was eager to keep learning here.”

Full article here:

House Post Carved by Xwalacktun Nears Completion

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Xwalacktun at work on his house post in the Aboriginal Gathering Place. (Photo by/courtesy Connie Watts)

by Perrin Grauer

The master carver and Order of British Columbia recipient has been working on the post for months at the Aboriginal Gathering Place with the help of Indigenous students.

Award-winning artist, educator and master carver Xwalacktun (alumni 1982) was nearing completion on a house post, created in collaboration with Indigenous students at Emily Carr University, when he took a break on a winter Monday to talk about the project.

Xwalacktun, who is of Squamish and Kwakwak’wakw ancestry, has been working on the post in the Aboriginal Gathering Place since the summer. The design, he tells me, pays homage to the work of the late Chief Joe Mathias — a revered carver, activist and community leader, born in the late 19th century.

“My mother reminded me that when she was five years old, she used to look out the window and see him carving in this style,” Xwalacktun says. “She’s going to be 92 this year. So, this is quite a long while ago that this style was being carved. I took Chief Joe Mathias’ forms, his designs, but I did it my own way.”

Full article here:

Totem Pole by Dempsey Bob, Stan Bevan Arrives at ECU

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A work crew carefully cranes a 25+ foot-tall totem pole carved by Dempsey Bob and Stan Bevan over the railing of the outdoor area on Level 2 of Emily Carr University in summer, 2021. (Photo by Perrin Grauer / Emily Carr University)

by Perrin Grauer

The arrival of the pole, titled Northern Wolves, is the latest phase in the Aboriginal Gathering Place’s Community Totem Pole Project, which brings together Tahltan-Tlingit and Māori master carvers.

A totem pole more than 25 feet tall was delivered in dramatic fashion to the Aboriginal Gathering Place (AGP) at Emily Carr University this summer.

Titled Northern Wolves, the pole began its journey near Terrace, BC, where master carvers Dempsey Bob (Tahltan-Tlingit) and Stan Bevan (Tahltan-Tlingit) had been working on it for over two years.

Upon arriving at ECU, it was uncrated while still aboard the truck, and then craned up to the outdoor area on the second floor of the university.

Full article here:

ECU’s 15 Most-Read Stories in 2021

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By Perrin Grauer

In a year that followed one of the strangest and most gruelling in a generation, your favourite stories focused on themes of community, empowerment and resilience.

No. 15 | ECU Student on Frontlines of Fairy Creek Protests says Blockades are a Battleground for a Sustainable Future
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The fight to save Vancouver Island’s ancient trees reveals an existential conflict that must be resolved to foster hope for a better future, says the Two Spirit artist. Full story here:

No. 13 | Eve Tuck Helps Students “Become More Like Themselves”
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The work of the writer, educator, researcher and 2021 Emily Carr University Honorary Doctorate recipient focuses on Indigenous social thought, and the ways it can be “engaged to create more fair and just social policy, more meaningful social movements, and robust approaches to decolonization.” Full story here:

No. 12 | Land-Based Design Course Uses ECU Campus as Test Case in Decolonial Wayfinding Project
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“Land-based” design and teaching emphasize local histories, relationships to place, and Indigenous sovereignty. Full story here:

No. 11 | Preston Buffalo is Taking the Power BackPreston Buffalo 006 ECU 2021 05 13 PBPGOn the occasion of his first solo exhibition, the iconoclastic artist reflects on his deep, defiant art practice and his journey to becoming a student at ECU. Full story here:

No. 4 | Emily Carr University Appoints Carleen Thomas as Chancellor
Carleen Thomas appointed Chancellor of Emily Carr University“I am honoured to have been asked to become the Chancellor of Emily Carr University,” Ms. Thomas, currently the Special Projects Manager for the Treaty, Lands and Resources department at the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and the first Indigenous person to hold the position of Chancellor at ECU, said at the time. “I’m passionate about education, as a former teacher and a life-long learner. I look forward to taking on this important role and working with the university’s remarkable students, staff and faculty.” Full story here:


Lindsay McIntyre Earns WIDC Feature Film Award

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Lindsay McIntyre in Christine Ienna’s short film Handmade Film. (Photo by Christina Ienna; courtesy Women in the Director’s Chair)

by Perrin Grauer

The prize will go to support The Words We Can’t Speak, a forthcoming feature film written, directed and produced by the artist and ECU faculty member.

Multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker of Inuit and Scottish descent Lindsay McIntyre has been awarded the 2021 Women in the Director’s Chair (WIDC) Feature Film Award.

The award, which comes with an in-kind prize valued at nearly a quarter million dollars, will support the production of Lindsay’s feature film, The Words We Can’t Speak, which is inspired by the life of Lindsay’s Inuk grandmother, according to a WIDC press release.

In a statement, Lindsay notes her gratitude for the honour, as well as her hopes for the film’s resonance with emerging artists.

Full article here:


Collaborative Artwork by James Hart, Xwalacktun, Levi Nelson Unveiled

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From left: Artists Xwalacktun, James Hart, and Levi Nelson at the unveiling ceremony. (Photo by Scott Brammer; courtesy the Audain Art Museum).

By Perrin Grauer

The monumental two-part work is on permanent display outside the Audain Art Museum in Whistler.

The Audain Art Museum in November unveiled a major new collaborative public artwork for permanent display outside its location in Whistler, BC.

The monumental two-part work consists of the cast-bronze sculpture The Three Watchmen by James Hart (7idansuu) which sits above a carved aluminum band entitled The Great Flood (Ti A7xa7 St’ak’), a collaboration by Xwalacktun and Levi Nelson (Svpyan).

The two-part work stands on the shared, unceded territory of the Lil’wat (Lil̓wat7úl) Nation and Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh) Nation.

The Three Watchmen, which is finished with a red ochre patina, depicts three sentinels who protect people both in this world and in the spirit world, according to a press release by the Audain Foundation. Wearing conical hats and with hands on bended knees, these supernatural protectors regularly appear on Haida crest poles. James, a hereditary Haida chief who is deeply involved with cultural and political planning and decision-making within his clan, community and the Haida Nation through the Hereditary Chiefs Council, was born in Old Massett, a town in the Haida Gwaii archipelago.

Full article here:

Exquisite DIY Brushes Now on Display in Foundation Corridor

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DIY brushes created by students in artist and ECU faculty member Mimi Gellman’s Interdisciplinary Core 138 and 139 classes. (Photo by Perrin Grauer / Emily Carr University).

By Perrin Grauer

The gorgeous group of objects were created by Foundation students in artist and ECU faculty member Mimi Gellman’s classes.

A stunning collection of DIY brushes created by students in artist and ECU faculty member Mimi Gellman’s Interdisciplinary Core 138 and 139 classes are currently on display in the Foundation corridor on Level 3 at Emily Carr University.

“They’re like little spirits,” Mimi tells me of the dozens of handmade objects.

Mimi first began experimenting with brush-making in 2020, producing a tutorial aimed at empowering locked-down visual artists. That practice joined a broader continuum of arts teachings emphasizing creative resilience and material ingenuity, Mimi said at the time.

“Not being able to rely on art supply stores provides us the opportunity to extend our abilities to problem solve, to be creative and more self-reliant,” she said.

“The thing that I get so excited about is how nimble we can be in the face of obstacles … When we have less of the access we’re accustomed to, what possibilities are opened up?”

Full article here:

James Harry Receives 2021 Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Harry James 02Multidisciplinary Squamish artist James Nexw’Kalus-Xwalacktun Harry. (Image courtesy BC Achievement Foundation)

By Perrin Grauer

The multidisciplinary artist and ECU alum roots his embrace of cutting-edge technologies in the tradition of wood-carving he learned from his father.

Artist James Nexw’Kalus-Xwalacktun Harry (BFA 2014) has earned a 2021 Fulmer Award in First Nations Art from the BC Achievement Foundation (BCAF).

James, who is of Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh) and European decent (Scottish, and German) and grew up as a member of the Squamish Nation, has worked with school districts, municipalities, non-profit agencies and community organizations across BC to produce a stunning array of works over the past decade.

“With a unique capacity for developing thematically significant work that connects all people to the ecology of place while building a greater understanding between cultures, his process brings people together, changes ideas, and leaves a legacy to remind the community that transformations can occur,” reads the BCAF’s press release.

Full article here: