The 16th Annual New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts at Carleton University on March 4 served as a gathering place to celebrate and continue raising public awareness of the Indigenous experience.
This year’s theme, An Energy Worthy of Healing, concerned the role we can all play in the healing process in light of findings from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. Tthe conference’s theme also served as an expression of hope, solidarity and support, as well as sharing the desire to become enlightened, inspired and entertained.
The one-day conference included talks from well-known artists and educators who illuminated Indigenous culture through their everyday work. They included:
- Shane Belcourt, Métis filmmaker, who shared clips from his first feature film;
- Alex Janvier, an iconic Canadian artist with a current solo exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada until April 17 who reflected on memorable moments in his artistic career dating back to his days at the Blue Quills Residential School;
- Mathew Nuqingaq from Iqaluit who shared his whimsical creations as an internationally renowned silversmith;
- Carleton Art History and Canada Research Chair, Ruth Philips talked about her work with the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Culture;
- Comedian, broadcaster and host of APTN’s The Candy Show, Candy Palmater entertained everyone with a half-hour performance.
New Sun Joy Maclaren, who had attended seven of the previous nine conferences before her death in 2014. was given the name New Sun in 1995 by Elders from the Blackfoot, Mohawk and Ojibwa nations at a special naming ceremony in recognition of her support of Indigenous culture and education.
Allan J. Ryan was appointed as the New Sun Chair in Aboriginal Art and Culture in 2001. The first of its kind in Canada, the Chair is situated in the university’s School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies.