My daughter Micah is going to be ten in about a month. To me, she is still this magnificent baby that captured my heart. I have 3 sons and she is my only daughter. She’s creative, gentle, thoughtful and very, very beautiful. She is always creating, learning and trying new things. She will often come out of her room with some sort of art piece, she’s either created, painted or made out of scrap material in the house (cardboard is her favourite).
I came across an art contest online and encouraged her to submit. We read the qualifications and the items they were looking for. She got to work. She asked a lot of questions and we had many discussions. The contest is out of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. They wanted submission that encompassed what the artist envisioned as “Reconciliation.’
This allowed Micah and I to talk about what Reconciliation means. I told her it was an action that the government could do to make the past wrongs, better. We talked about what the government and churches took away from Indigenous peoples, the Land, the Culture, the Language, our teachings. She understands residential schools and is aware my mom, her grandma attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School. So all of these pieces came to life on her canvas.
I’ve recently started my Language Learning Journey and with that comes teachings and cultural values of the St’at’imc. One of these values is the St’at’imc Medicine Wheel. So we talked about it and she incorporated the things I have learned and then shared with her.
Below is what we were going to submit to the NTC art contest.
I learned about the St’átimc Medicine Wheel from my mom who learned it from her sister, my aunty. Each quadrant has an animal, season, colour and direction.
The Creator asked each animal what would they do for the people?
In the East the Golden Eagle said he can fly the highest and is the closest to the Creator so he will send the people’s prayers. The season in the east is Summer and it focuses on the Mental health. The East is represented by the colour yellow.
In the South the Mouse said he is small but he will teach the people to be humble. That no matter how small you are, you can build and grow. The season is Spring and it focuses on the physical. The South is represented by the colour green.
In the West the Bear said he will demonstrate protection, security, rest, and recovery. The season is Fall and focuses on the spiritual. The West is represented by the colour Black.
In the North the deer said it will come with the teachings and teach the people, deer offers his life to allow people to live. The season is winter and focuses on the emotional. The North is represented by the colour White.
At the center it is red to symbolize Mother earth and the outer circle is blue for Creator.
The Residential School is included to remind us of the people that went there. My grama and her brothers and sisters attended the school.
The salmon is important to us. I really like to eat it, especially dried salmon. The flowers in the salmon represent medicine. My grama teaches me about different medicines when we go out on the land.
The bear paw is there because it is my favourite animal. The bear teaches us what we can eat and to protect our babies.
The mountains, sun, water with the petroglyphs of the paw, bird and fish come from my band, the Tsalalh Band. It represents all things that are important and we need to protect. Protect the land, the four-legged, the winged-ones and the finned-ones.
The water on the rim represents, Water is Life because we all need clean drinking water.
Kwezúsmin tákem i sk’úk’mi7ta translates to Every Child Matters in St’at’imcets.
As we began the paperwork for the contest, we (meaning I) read the fine print. We had to agree that by submission, we give all title, right and interest in Copyright, including moral rights in the Work… including the right to reproduce, re-publish, or re-print the Work in any format or media. If she was to be successful in this contest she would be one of twelve projects from the K-G5 stream and would be selected for inclusion in an art booklet to showcase their vision of Reconciliation. Additionally, these projects, and the youth involved, will be honoured at a national celebration to take place in Summer 2022.
The hair on the back of my neck went up. She spent so much time, effort and money on this project to be put into a booklet. Not that I feel every contest needs a monetary prize, but too often we are fighting for financial recognition for our knowledge. We pay our Elders for their knowledge and teachings, why can’t we pay our children/youth? The amount of cultural knowledge Micah incorporated into her art piece and the amount of learning she did and is sharing is so incredible.
Also, this piece if very local to the St’at’imc Nation. The animals, language and medicine wheel are reflective of her culture. Would someone from across Canada understand or know? Possibly. However, can this work somehow benefit or teach her own community? Why not make prints, posters, t-shirts with her write up and bring awareness to the St’at’imc Nation?
Just a mom’s thought.