Celebrating Indigenous Month

Préville Fine Arts Centre Celebrates National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous People’s Day by recognizing our talented Indigenous teachers and our newly formed Indigenous community connections!

We feel blessed this year to have made connections with amazing Indigenous artists and communities – connections that we hope will grow and flourish into the future.

Thank you, Craig!

Craig and his Beadweaving Work

Firstly, we’d like to thank Craig Commanda! Craig is an Algonquin Anishinaabe multidisciplinary artist from Kitigan Zibi who works through still and moving images, poetry, music, beadwork, and sound composition. You can get a taste of Craig’s incredible range of work in a featured article on the Montréal Serai and Digital Mural and the National Arts Centre websites.

Préville Programme Coordinator, Heather Schnarr, learned about Craig when she was doing research to find an Inidigenous artist who would be interested in teaching beadwork live, online to the Préville community.

Craig’s Class at Préville

For our Préville Online! Spring Session, Craig taught Beadweaving to kids and adults, from locations in Alberta, Quebec, Kitigan Zibi and the shores of Lake Huron. He introduced participants to Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, which explores architectural shapes such as hyperbolic paraboloids – a shape more commonly known in the bead world as a warped square. With Craig’s help, participants watched these shapes come to life right in their own hands! 

Watch the Promo Video for Craig’s Beadweaving Class at Préville

Through Craig we connected with the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Cultural Center who promoted the beadweaving class for us and helped with supplies and technical logistics. Our online platform has been an amazing tool enabling new partnerships with communities and participants that are many hours away, some in very remote areas! Nicole Mackay from Kincardine, Ontario participated in Craig’s online class. It was her first time doing beadwork, but something about the practice struck a chord with her, encouraging her to connect with her Indigenous ancestry. She’s a natural beadwork artist whose work has already caught the attention of CBC Inidgenous reporter, Rhiannon Johnson! Take a minute to check out Nicole’s work on her Facebook page.

Craig and Heather Collaborate: Indigenous Cities @ NAC

Watch Craig and Heather’s Project “Akikojiwan”

Heather and Craig had a chance to collaborate together as artists for the National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Cities project. Craig’s project, “Akikodjiwan,” is a film that includes his recitation of Anishinaabe Elder, and Ottawa Poet Laureate, Albert Dumont’s poem by the same name, with a soundtrack of original music and sound composed by Craig. Heather performs the beautiful violin track that you’ll hear on the recording.

Kitiganik School Partnership

Live Online Art Class at Kitiganik School

Over the course of three weeks in June, school children at Kitiganik School in Rapid Lake, and their teachers, took classes in art and dance, as well as in robotics (with Préville teacher Ivan Ruby, who lives in Mozambique!), and beadweaving with Sam Guertin. Rapid Lake is home to individuals who are wonderful beadwork artists and Sam’s 3D, geometric techniques introduced something new and different!

*** Main blog photo: When Heather went to Rapid Lake to deliver art supplies, the kids had fun trying out her violin! Photo credit: Heather Schnarr.

Learn to Lose with Jera Wolfe

Dancer and Choreographer, Jera Wolfe

Earlier this Winter our Préville Online dance community had the opportunity to work with renowned Métis dancer and choreographer Jera Wolfe. Their time together culminated in a new choreographed work that was filmed over one weekend this Spring.

Learn to Lose is the newly released film by award-winning filmmaker Philippe Frenette-Roy, which archives this special Préville masterclass with Jera.

First Nations Education Council

Finally, we have recently reached out to the First Nations Education Council, an association of eight First Nations of Quebec, spread over 22 communities. We hope that by working together with them we will be able to connect with more students and teachers in First Nation communities.

New Horizons!

All of these new connections and initiatives feel like the beginning of a journey for the Préville Fine Arts Centre. While the pandemic kept us all working from home, the great blessing to the Centre has been the opening of new horizons, and new opportunities for teaching and learning online. We are grateful to the Indigenous artists, teachers, administrators and communities who have given their time and expertise, and who have opened up their doors to the Préville community.