September 19th, around 19,000 people got to see my illustration, an amazing contribution to indigenous history, and I couldn't be prouder. I'd never heard this story before it was shared with me, so it was like someone was sharing indigenous culture with me.
Special thanks to Skyler Anderson, a storyteller and indigenous liaison for the Globe Theatre. He was born and raised in Regina, his family is Cree, from the Peepeekisis and George Gordon First Nations. A huge thank you to the Globe Theatre, for giving me an amazing opportunity. My artwork accompanied his telling of the beautiful story of the Quillwork Girl at Miyo-wîcîwitowin (We Walk Together) at Mosaic Stadium. This day is a response to the federal government's declaration of September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (NDT&R), a statutory holiday to pause and reflect on residential schools' tragic history and ongoing legacy. Miyo-wîcîwitowin means reconciliation in Cree: walking together in a good way.
I wanted to share a bit of my process, I met with Skylar and Heather and he told me the story, I was also shared a video of the story of Quillwork Girl which I used to break down the key parts of the story:
I took each scene using the elements of the story as my guide. I used Sailor Moon as a reference because the story is about stars and celestial bodies. There are some figure poses and anatomy referencing Sailor Moon. I wanted to channel inspiration from Disney for the status of storytelling it has gained. I also sought to reclaim some of the mistakes it had with the story of Pocahontas. The colour palette chosen for Quillwork Girl was a direct reference to the art of Pocahontas.
So, why did this project interest me? There's so much shame and hesitation in sharing indigenous culture in practices because it risks having your kids taken away for many families. For me personally, it was also a bit different than that. The stadium was filled with high school students whose ages were a bit older than when I experienced bullying that leveraged my indigenous ethnicity. So for me, it felt like all these people in this stadium stood behind me as a young girl shamed for being indigenous, and every time a teenager smiled at my kids- who were having trouble sitting still at the event- I realized we were healing. Today reflected on celebrating a culture many of us never got a chance to understand. I am earning opportunities with my skills because I am indigenous instead of being ostracized for being indigenous.
I am getting to lend my voice and perspective while contributing to a culture I didn't feel I was allowed to participate in; for me, this is mind-blowing. However, at the end of the day, it's bigger than me. I am getting the chance to pursue my dreams when so many little ones never even got the chance to have dreams, much less chase them. So as challenging as it was to bring my kids to an event like this, I'm filled with pride, knowing I'm demonstrating that they should be proud of all parts of themselves and that they are allowed to dream. I truly believe that every child matters and that every child deserves to grow up and become an adult. And if every child matters, then all the adults who were once children must matter too. So be kind. Kind to yourself and kind to others.