Reconciliation through Indigenous art is the theme at a Calgary mall
The exhibit features work from 17 Indigenous artists and is located in Southcentre Mall's Art Corner on the second floor.
Tapisa Kilabuk is one of the event organizers with the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good that's collaborating with Colouring it Forward Reconciliation Society for the six week long exhibit.
"Just having this kind of representation in Calgary is just so wonderful and so beautiful and so inclusive," said Kilabuk. "When I was here the other day helping with the orange shirts and I was overwhelmed with emotion because I've never seen anything like this before."
The federal government recently declared September 30th as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It's a day for Canadians to spread awareness and reflect on the tragedies experienced by Indigenous people as a result of the country's former residential school system.
Alexandra Velosa is the marketing manager at Southcentre Mall which is a big supporter of the arts community. The artwork for the exhibit is hung from the ceiling and on the back of each piece are recommendations about how everyone can take steps to help foster reconciliation.
"We all want to make a difference," said Velosa. "We just sometimes don't know how and this is what the art exhibit is giving us, it's giving us the information we need to take little actions to be part of the reconciliation."
The space has been open to the public since the start of September. Close to 11,000 people visit it daily.
"A big part of our role with Colour it Forward Reconciliation Society is reconciliation through the arts," said Kilabuk. "That gives people the space to come together, to learn more, to appreciate one another, to admire one another and really create those fundamental relationships in our community that will create a better community in the future."
WHITE BUFFALO MOON
Keevin Rider is one of the artists taking part in the exhibit. His piece is titled White Buffalo Moon. A buffalo on the left side of the painting represents the people, seven empty lodges represent death, loneliness, sorrow, mourning, grief, hurt, depression. A white buffalo on the right represents healing and looks towards the buffalo on the left letting him know that he is there to help heal the people.
Rider says he's a product of his parents attending residential schools.
"My dad was Stoney Nakoda, my mom was Blackfoot, Blood," said Rider. "They can speak their language fluently but they thought it would be better for us not to because of what residential (schools) taught them: it taught them not to speak their language, don't use your culture."
Now Rider is starting to learn his native languages at 57 years old. He says painting puts him in a good space and helps him heal. He's proud to be included in the exhibit and is hopeful that visitors will learn from the stories of the art and appreciate the work of the Indigenous artists featured.
The mall is still finalizing details of how it will host the first observance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th to follow provincial health measures. The exhibit will be open until mid-October.