Corey Bulpitt & Larissa Healey, Brian Jungen Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture, installation view, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2012.
Photo : Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery

Indigenous Voices and White Pedagogy

Maeve Hanna
We must play seamstress
Stitch together
Piece by Piece
name by name
voice by voice1 1 - Moe Clark, “Butterfly Ashes,” in Fire and Sage (Brussels: maelstrÖm rEvolution, 2013), 16.

The delicate voice of Edie Frederick, a Lheidli T’enneh Elder, carried through the exhibition space as she greeted and welcomed visitors in Dakelh (pronounced Da-keth), a dialect of the Carrier people, of the Northern Interior of British Columbia. Translating, she explained that she is a descendant of Six Mile Mary, a clan head of the Grouse Clan of the Lheidli T’enneh, well known for catching whitefish at Six Mile Lake, now Tabor Lake, and paddling the rivers in her dugout canoe.2 2 - Conversation with Edie Frederick, May 4, 2015. Robert Frederick, Edie’s husband and also a Lheidli T’enneh Elder, spoke next. He told a story about when his grandmother saw the first white person in Prince George. He stopped momentarily, holding back emotion, and then spoke about his experience in residential school. Everyone was silent, stunned, listening to this man so honestly recount unbelievable and harrowing experiences, all brought upon him by white people. As I looked around, I saw many people I know from the community, many settlers. Robert Frederick continued, telling us the legend of the salmon that is carved on a cottonwood dugout canoe that visitors were gathering around. The canoe was made by Robert Frederick, along with students in First Nations Studies during a course offered at the University of Northern British Columbia. The students had learned from him how these canoes were traditionally made. Robert had carved the legend on one side of the canoe, while the students had carved it on the other, thus learning both the traditions of the Lheidli T’enneh and how to carve traditionally from a master carver.

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This article also appears in the issue 85 – Taking a Stance - Taking a Stance

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