Excitement, Opportunity and Understanding
by Mariah Sockabasin, Workshop Facilitator
Art is not just a part of our culture, it is our culture.
For years, for generations it has been how we tell stories, how we put food on the table, how we express ourselves. With 1 in 7 New Brunswickers being Indigenous, it is important that investments are made to ensure arts and cultural development in New Brunswick’s First Nation’s communities. Through this PETL Grant, we now have the opportunity to work towards a more stable platform for supporting Indigenous artists. This is a huge win for Indigenous Artists, and I am so excited to be a part of it. There is a shift happening, an awakening. I feel truly blessed to be able to work with such talented artists across the province.
I grew up watching my elders pound ash, weave baskets, bead, and utilize an entire hunt for its resources. It is important to secure arts and culture by continuing our teachings and passing the traditional knowledge on to our children. It is also important for Indigenous artists that we understand how to succeed in today’s ever-changing environment.
Over the past three years, artsnb has been conducting Aboriginal Outreach through a JEDI Aboriginal Youth Internship grant. The artsnb Circle of Elders advises the arts board and operational staff on how best to develop initiatives and programs to meet the needs of the community. Through the past three years of outreach, artsnb have built contact with the Indigenous artist community from 40 to nearly 300, and we have a deeper understanding of what next steps need to be taken in order to continue building and strengthening the presence of Indigenous art and culture in New Brunswick and beyond. That’s where I come in . . .
As the new workshop facilitator for artsnb, for the next two years I will be conducting 6 discipline-specific workshops. We will be partnering with Provincial, Atlantic, and National artists and arts organizations to offer a full spectrum of traditional and contemporary Indigenous art practice. Artists will have the opportunity to work hands-on and try new things with their art while being immersed in an atmosphere that is culturally their own. Artists will learn how the art world works in each discipline; build a network of supports, as well as identifying the steps needed for establishing a sustainable art practice.
I believe, if artists take anything from these workshops it will be the drive to continue moving forward with their work, to keep pushing their boundaries and get out of their comfort zone. From this, there will be growth; there will be healing, and most importantly, there will be continuity. People across Canada will know the art of the Aboriginal Peoples of New Brunswick, they will know our story.
You can reach Mariah by email – firstname.lastname@example.org – or by phone, 506-259-9776.