Sometimes all you need is a circle of friends with coffee and tea please.
Natalie Sappier, Aboriginal Outreach Officer
WOW! I am hitting my 2 year mark as being an artsnb Aboriginal Outreach officer and the journey has been nothing but a positive learning experience. I feel as though I have all these new skills under my belt that will not only help me as an artist but help other artists who are on the same path. Travelling the province and meeting artists has been the best part of this job. I am so proud to see how far so many artists have come since first meeting them. I keep hearing many successful stories about our Aboriginal artists and I keep seeing so much art activity in the First Nation communities which leaves me encouraged to continue this path, doing the best that I can do in helping to create more support and opportunities for our Aboriginal artists.
During this time at artsnb it made me realize how partnerships have been so helpful and important in making some of these opportunities possible, not only just for funding but coming together and sharing our resources and building a larger network to help one another. Last year we partnered with ArtslinkNB and AAAPNB for our workshops on “Career Planning” and this year we joined together with JEDI for a workshop in Tobique First Nation on “Documenting Art.”
Our recent workshops on “Strategies and Advice for a Career in the Arts” were brought together with our continued partnership with AAAPNB and ArtslinkNB. Together we were able to bring two workshops to Metepenagiag First Nation and St Mary’s First Nation. The planning of these workshops began in late 2014 when all three organizations came together after the first round of workshops and wanted to continue on building more workshops for the Aboriginal artists. We sat and discussed what we thought would be beneficial and recognized that there were many Aboriginal artists that are in their breakthrough stage and are trying to push their practice and get more exposure. We decided that gathering artists and arts organizations together in an open discussion on how organizations work, how to network, how to build partnerships and collaborations would be a great idea.
We brought in Angela Birdsell to help us facilitate this workshop and the open discussion happened organically. We first gathered in a circle and started both workshops with an opening ceremony of a prayer and chant by a community elders, George Paul and Maggie Paul. We then started the discussion in a talking circle format of introducing yourself, what is art to you? And why do you do it? The discussion in the room went for hours, most artists talking about their passion, struggles and their fight. Many shared beautiful, powerful stories and many times the room filled with laughter. There were artists of many disciplines, levels of practice, ages and education backgrounds.
I realized as simple as this gathering is, it is very important and we need to gather like this more often; a room full of artists discussing and sharing. I think it was also important for the arts organizations to not only share the opportunities and resources but to be in the circle to hear the concerns and voices of the artists. It was a great gathering which ended with many hugs, some dancing and new friendships.